Cambodia's preferred source of protein is freshwater fish, caught mainly from the Tonle Sap and from the Tonle Sab, the Mekong, and the Basak rivers. Cambodians eat it fresh, salted, smoked, or made into fish sauce and paste. A fishing program, developed with Western assistance, was very successful in that it more than quadrupled the output of inland freshwater fish in three years, from 15,000 tons in 1979 to 68,700 tons in 1982, a peak year. After leveling off, output declined somewhat, dipping to 62,000 tons in 1986. The 1986 total was less than half the prewar figure of some 125,000 tons a year. Saltwater fishing was less developed, and the output was insignificant--less than 10 percent of the total catch. According to the First Plan, fisheries were projected to increase their annual output to 130,000 metric tons by 1990.
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