Cambodia’s Fish Catch Numbers Don’t Add Up For Fishers


When Puth Thavy was 20, the fisherman and his siblings used to come back to their village each day with three boatloads full of fish, or about 200 kilograms. Today they can barely fill a single boat.

“Our fishing is so bad, I think it has decreased more than half,” said Thavy, now 38, as he and his sister sold the day’s catch to a middleman on a floating house at the edge of the Tonle Sap floodplain. “We are getting older, while the fish are getting fewer.”

Two of Thavy’s eight siblings have stopped fishing, and left their hometown. The family is from Bak Prea floating village in Battambang province, well-known from a Cambodian 1960s classical song, “Fisherman’s Daughter.” These days, many of the village’s daughters have left for better jobs.

Thavy’s experience mirrors what other fisher families on the Tonle Sap lake told VOA Khmer and what countless fishers have been saying for years. Their daily catch has been on a steady decline, forcing many to migrate for seasonal work or leave the industry altogether. An analysis of available data confirms that fewer people are fishing across Cambodia. But other indicators reveal a trend that is difficult for many to believe: the number of fish caught in Cambodia has reportedly doubled over the last 20 years.

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