Mininistry of Agriculture responds to allegations of loss of fisheries
The Ministry of Agriculture yesterday responded to criticism and accusations by opposition groups and the media that the decline and loss of fish production is due to the incompetence of the Ministry, the Fisheries Administration and local officials.
The criticism also raised concerns over illegal deforestation, flooding, illegal occupation and no measures to release fish species.
Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon said critics have the right to express their views, as well as finding corrupt officials for legal action, adding that these individuals should recognise the political turning point in the government’s reform of this sub-sector since the implementation of decentralisation after 2016.
The government decided to decentralise by giving authority to the governors to lead the crackdown on fisheries and forestry crimes. Now in these cases, the ministry can only intervene if necessary.
Sakhon said: “The loss of natural resources in the past has many reasons. As I have already stated in the press release, because it is a matter of approval, not the ministry, because it started from the process of national economic growth, urban growth, urban congestion and sedimentation of waterways and canals along rivers.”
“Apart from our current aquaculture, there is a lack of capital, a lack of water resources, a lack of integrated farming and difficult harvests that take a long time from one province to another to collect, supply, market and transport as well,” he said.
“There are still many challenges that we are looking at and addressing interdepartmentally with the Ministries of Agriculture, Economy, Commerce, Water Resources, the Rural Development Bank and local authorities,” said Sakhon.
Although Cambodia faces a number of remaining challenges related to aquaculture and market issues, aquaculture in Cambodia over the last five years (2015-2020), has achieved progress with remarkable acceleration.
The annual harvested aquaculture yields were as follows: 2015 had 143,141 tonnes, 2016 had 172,500 tonnes, 2017 had 207,443 tonnes, 2018 had 254,048 tonnes and 2019 had 307,408 tonnes.
The average annual aquaculture output increased by 20.6 percent from 2015-2019 and in 2020 increased to 400,400 tonnes, an increase of 30 percent compared to 2019, he said.
Sakhon said: “The steady increase in aquaculture output is due to the interest and active participation of our Cambodian aquatic farmers, combined with the support from the government, both technical and capital including loans from partners for international development of aquaculture activities in Cambodia.”
According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Agriculture on June 15, the main reason for the supply and demand of fish is that Cambodia continues to face unresolved challenges.
Other factors include decreased natural fish production due to population growth, over-fishing techniques and offenders, over-fishing tricks, environmental degradation and loss of spawning habitat, climate change, Mekong River usage and cooperation with authorities responsible for cracking down on fisheries crimes are still limited after the government has introduced a policy of reforming the transfer of power to the sub-national level.
Fisheries administration have stated that private investment in aquaculture still lacks capital and knowledge to study the needs of domestic and foreign markets, combined with the cost of domestic transportation and high costs. The Ministry of Agriculture has been actively pursuing a public-private development partner and community approach to address the above-mentioned challenges, he said. Khmer Times