Cambodia exported a total of 3,590 tonnes of fisheries products worth more than $8.33 million last year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported.
This was down 74.5 per cent in volume from the 14,100 tonnes posted in 2019, it said.
The decline was due to tighter import-export scrutiny of fishery products during the Covid-19 outbreak in the Kingdom as the government strives to promote aquaculture for domestic consumption, industry insiders have said.
Total fisheries production totalled 936,300 tonnes – 413,200 tonnes from freshwater catches, 122,700 tonnes from marine capture and 400,400 tonnes from aquaculture, according to minister Veng Sakhon.
Heng Sophearith, director of the provincial Fisheries Administration in Kandal, an area with high potential for aquaculture, told The Post that the administration has been busy promoting aquaculture for domestic use in the province during Covid-19.
He said: “Family aquaculture operations are on a strong upward trend and have yielded decent incomes for locals.”
The administration is trying its hand at promoting the commercialisation of small or family-owned fishery units, he said.
“We have the capacity in Kandal province to supply the local market and still be able to export, but we need to further strengthen the quality of our products,” Sophearith said.
Sok Radan, president of Cambodian Aquaculturist Association, said the government prioritises the domestic market over international ones in its efforts to boost production capacity.
But he said it should spruce up infrastructure for the fisheries sector, with emphasis on ensuring a sustainable water system.
“In a bid to boost exports, we can produce our own competitive, high-grade fish feed at reasonable prices – and [benefit from] low electricity costs – as long as our products are of good quality.
“The government is strongly pushing for aquaculture so that we can export fisheries products, but we need financiers who are willing to invest in the sector,” Radan said.
According to Sakhon, freshwater and marine captures last year were valued at $1,071,800,000, while aquaculture production was to the tune of $800,800,000.
He told The Post on July 14 that the government is actively pursuing to boost aquaculture, expand domestic supply capacity and increase exports in the long-term.
“I believe that through these efforts, the private sector will be able to acknowledge that Cambodia is able to step up its hatchery rearing methods to upgrade fisheries exports to the international market to match its needs.
“We need to reinforce our breeding and growing systems to meet [international] standards as the government leadership improves the freight forwarding industry,” Sakhon said.
The ministry’s Fisheries Administration reported that it expects aquaculture production in the Kingdom to yield 740,000 tonnes in 2024, through the implementation of the Strategic Planning Framework for Fisheries 2015-2024 and the National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture Development 2016-2030.