About four tons of fish were found dead on the surface of Boeng Vien lake in Kompong Cham province this weekend, leading villagers to collect them to make emergency batches of the fermented fish paste known as prahok.
Srey Santhor district governor Heng Vanny said that local authorities had not yet determined how the fish had died, but believed it could be due to recent fast growth of the invasive aquatic plant known as water hyacinth.
Mr. Vanny said that water levels in the lake were particularly low due to the dry season, leading the water hyacinth to die and rot.
“We think the rotten plants and the weather are the reason,” he said.
Water hyacinth is known to put down vast networks of underwater roots, or “runners,” and can starve water of its oxygen, killing fish. Provincial Fisheries Administration deputy chief Hing Sothanarith said that fish were still dying Wednesday, but in smaller numbers than over the weekend.
“We told people to collect the dead fish to make prahok, and we instructed them not to cook them for eating, because we are worried that the fish will make people sick if the fish really died of poisoning,” he added.
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