Consultant: Ian Watson
While the inland fisheries of Cambodia provide the greatest supply of fish, marine fisheries are still important. However, the fisheries are currently unsustainable suffering from both over-fishing and IUU fishing resulting in declining yields. RGoC wants to develop export opportunities for fishery products but before this can happen, major improvements need to be made. Improvements in the marine sector are being funded through the ADB-led SCMF project which is due to begin in the first quarter of 2023. Through ADB and other donors USD100M is being made available, mostly in the form of loans. Although the focus of the project is on improving fisheries management and enforcement, substantial investment will be required to bring the marine fishery value chain up to the standard where products could meet the demands of international markets.
Ian Watson was responsible for evaluating the state of the fishery infrastructure and assessing the investment needs to upgrade facilities to improve food safety standards. Visits were carried out to landing areas, markets and fish processing establishments, which showed that conditions were in need of improvement. Not only were the facilities in poor condition, but working practices are in need of considerable change in order to provide safe seafood for the Cambodian market, as well as international markets. Proposals were made to bring about upgrades in fishery products handling, food safety and hygiene controls throughout the value chain, with particular emphasis on improving coastal landing sites and processing facilities.
Opportunities for expansion of supply were examined and, although some resources are over-exploited and in decline, there is scope for development of bivalve aquaculture. This is a low-impact, low-cost activity which is already established in some areas but with minimal hygiene controls. Implementation of a scheme to boost production and bring in EU-compliant measures for bivalve production could open up new markets. There is also scope for increased market efficiency as some bivalves have a high value on the Phnom Penh markets, which are currently not supplied by the producers.
It was proposed to provide producers on the bivalve value chain with access to market price information to enable them to better identify their best selling options. The main beneficiary is the Fisheries Administration and a number of investments were proposed to enable them to monitor food safety along the marine value chain more effectively. This would include upgrades to laboratory facilities and the provision of mobile testing units to enable FiA officers to carry out spot checks. This will also be backed up with training for FiA officers in HQ and in the coastal offices, as well as the development of IT systems to enable food safety monitoring and reporting.