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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chinese vessels still moored off Koh Kong

Chinese-flagged fishing trawlers are seen floating last year near Krao Island, off the coast of Koh Kong province, where they have been held for more than six months
Chinese-flagged fishing trawlers are seen floating last year near Krao Island, off the coast of Koh Kong province, where they have been held for more than six months. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Chinese vessels still moored off Koh Kong

More than six months after being detained by authorities in Koh Kong, 18 Chinese fishing trawlers moored off Cambodia’s coast remain in place, as does uncertainty about why the vessels ended up in the Kingdom’s waters in the first place.

Speaking on Sunday, Koh Kong Provincial Governor Bun Leut said authorities were still waiting for a “solution” for the vessels, which were detained by Cambodia’s navy in July of last year, according to a Post interview with a Navy boat captain in August.

“[The trawlers] strayed in into our territory and we have detained them for a long time,” Leut said, maintaining that the vessels had not fished in Cambodian waters.

“We have kept the boats for the embassy to come to check and find a solution … the representative of the Chinese Embassy has visited the boats and recognised the boats as belonging to them and has lodged documents with our government.”

Leut said he was unsure why the ships had arrived. He mentioned their contract to dock in another country might have expired. In August, a navy official told The Post that the trawlers had left Thailand after their licence to dock there expired.

In August, a Chinese Embassy representative said the boats were “temporarily” in Cambodia’s waters because they needed repairs.

Speaking by phone, Wang De Xin, chief of the Chinese Embassy’s political section, said the boats had sustained damage from big waves, and more time was needed.

“We will have to wait for the trawlers to be repaired before taking the next move,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JOVINA CHUA

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