Amid Drought and Flooding, Cambodian Fish Catches, Exports Fall Precipitously

The Diplomat –

For two decades, scientists and environmentalists have warned that fish stocks in the Lower Mekong River were at risk from a cluster of factors including overfishing and use of illegal nets, massive dam construction in Laos and China, and the effects of climate change.

And now the numbers appear to support those warnings, with Cambodian fish exports for the first nine months of the year slumping 84 percent year-on-year, while fish catches are down about 70 percent over the same period.

Numbers obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture and published by Voice of Democracy (VOD) show that fresh fish exports fell from 5,502 tons to just 1,498 tons, as the export of processed fish products fell precipitously, from 5,000 tons to just 232 tons.

The ministry had aimed to export 15,000 tons of fresh fish this year, and the VOD report quoted local fishing associations as saying the catch for the year to date was down around 70 percent.

bout 70 million people depend upon the Mekong River as their chief source of protein and live hand to mouth, and in Vietnam 50 percent of agricultural GDP is derived from the river.

Until the recent floods, water levels in the Mekong River had been sitting at record lows as fishermen complained bitterly that their fish catches had been reduced to about a kilogram a day, compared with 20 to 30 kilograms a day in years past.

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