Cambodia exported a total of 2,092 tonnes of fisheries products in the first half of 2021, surging 52.47 per cent over the same period last year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported.
The latest report comes as local fish farmers express concern over market conditions amid stiff competition from cheaper imports.
During the period from January-June, exports of fresh fisheries products was 1,945 tonnes in January-June, up 70.61 per cent year-on-year from 1,140 tonnes, while processed fisheries clocked in at 147 tonnes, plunging 36.63 per cent year-on-year from 232 tonnes, ministry figures show.
The greater part of Cambodian fisheries exports was shipped to Vietnam and Thailand, it said.
Lim Sokheng, the owner of a fish farm in the capital’s northernmost Prek Phnov district, said the local fish market remained relatively steady, though prices continued to fall during the first half of this year.
The wholesale price of pra fish (Pangasius djambal) is now around 4,300 riel ($1.06), declining from 4,600 riel in March, he said.
He said his farm yields in excess of 1,000 tonnes of the fish per season, most of which supplies markets in Phnom Penh or is distributed to other provinces.
However, the farm now carries unsold stocks of 300 tonnes of the fish, he lamented.
“The fish market is a bit weak now, probably from fish imports, and my ponds will continue to yield fish over the next two months,” Sokheng said.
Similarly, Song Seyha, another fish farmer based in Tbong Khmum province’s southernmost Ponhea Kraek district, said the local juvenile fish market has remained largely unchanged.
Juvenile fish tend to sell for some 30,000 riel per kg, a slight decrease compared to pre-Covid days, he said.
He noted that a considerable proportion of small-scale operations were not buying new varieties after running out of fish in their ponds.
Total fisheries production totalled 32,040 tonnes in the first half of this year – 25,910 tonnes and 6,130 tonnes of freshwater and marine products, respectively, equivalent to 32.39 per cent and 51.8 per cent of the target, ministry statistics indicate.
Freshwater fisheries decreased 4.92 per cent year-on-year from 27,250 tonnes, and marine products increased 0.33 per cent year-on-year from 6,110 tonnes.
Heng Sophearith, director of the Fisheries Administration in Kandal province, an area with high potential for aquaculture, previously told The Post that the administration has been busy promoting aquaculture for domestic use in the province during Covid-19.
“Family aquaculture operations are on a strong upward trend and have yielded decent incomes for locals,” he said
The administration is trying its hand at promoting the commercialisation of small or family-owned fishery units, he added.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon also said 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.
Cambodia exported a total of 3,590 tonnes of fisheries products worth more than $8.33 million in 2020, down 74.53 per cent from 14,100 tonnes in 2019, according to the ministry.