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Concern over falling fish stocks

THE destruction of flooded forests and illegal fishing remain widespread problems, threatening the Kingdom’s inland fisheries, the chief of the Tonle Sap Authority said.

Speaking on a Cambodian Television Network programme on Tuesday, Lim Kean Hor, who is also the minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, said illegal bamboo traps are found almost everywhere on the Tonle Sap river.

“This is a stubborn activity against the government’s orders to preserve fishing resources, biodiversity and the ecology system of the Tonle Sap river,” said Lim Kean Hor.

His comments came on the same day Nao Thouk, the director of the Fisheries Administration, deflected blame for the country’s declining fish catches and said fishermen were responsible for the ongoing crisis.
However, Lim Kean Hor said cracking down on illegal fishing was the responsibility of the Fisheries Administration, not the Tonle Sap Authority.

Khim Kea, a 52-year-old fisherman from Kampong Chhnang province, said fisheries enforcement had ramped up from previous years, but that offences were still common.

“Sometimes, the [illegal fishers] destroy boats and threaten to kill [fishermen] when we report illegal actions to the Fisheries Administration,” he said.

Minh Bunly, a Tonle Sap programme coordinator for the Fisheries Action Coalition Team, said illegal activity has been reduced in recent years. However, he said the use of illegal equipment, which is prohibited under 2006’s Fisheries Law, was still a threat “to reduce Cambodia’s fish profits”.

In October, Nao Thouk predicted that 2010’s fish yields would decline by 30 percent compared with last year.

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