Fishing in the Mekong

Fish is an important part of the Cambodian diet.  There is some chicken and pork–but not much beef because it requires pasture land and all the land is in rice–but much of the population relies on fish for protein.  And there are plenty of prime fishing areas in Cambodia: the Gulf of Thailand in the south, the Mekong River, and the huge Tonle Sap lake near Siem Reap.

These pictures are of fishing activity on the Mekong River just north of Phnom Penh.  Almost without thinking, one would assume the people on the boats are Vietnamese–many of them living on their boats or in floating villages along the Mekong–but some of the women are obviously Muslim and I don’t know how many Muslim Vietnamese would be around here.

Whenever I eat fish here, I always hope it is from the sea or from Tonle Sap Lake.  The Mekong River is an open sewer because there is very little sewage treatment in Cambodia and the raw stuff is basically just dumped straight into the streams.

Part of a dozen fishing boats continually setting and retrieving floating nets.
Most of these fishing boats are “long tails,” boats with an automobile engine driving a propeller that extends far out behind the boat.


This fisherman is setting nets using yellow plastic dish detergent bottles as floats. His wife has a Muslim head covering.
On this family’s boat, they are using purple plastic toilet cleaner bottles for their floats. Using different brands and colors helps them to distinguish the various nets.