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A Kep fisherman casts a net into the sea on the Kingdom’s coast in 2013.
A Kep fisherman casts a net into the sea on the Kingdom’s coast in 2013. Pha Lina

Fish catches slowing as waters deteriorate

Coastal fish yields declined by 5 per cent in the past year, a coastal fishery administration officer said yesterday.

Nen Chamroeun, administration official in Sihanoukville, said fishermen switching to factory work and venturing onto the water less often were the main culprits for the decline.

The catch totalled 46,830 tonnes in 2015, down from 2014’s 49,250 tonnes.

“People in this sector have set out for only 15 to 20 days per month,” he said. “This is different from before, when they were fishing for 25 to 26 days per month.”

However, Nhil Horn, a representative of a fishing community at Prey Nub district, said that coastal fish numbers are down due to a lack of seaweed and mangrove forests, removed by the rich and connected.

“The seaweed is the habitat for the sea creatures, but that seaweed has been cleared and filled with soil almost everywhere, so the fish, crabs and squid are faced with a lack of food and habitat,” he said.

The fishery administration said it planted nearly 13,000 mangrove saplings along the coast in 2015 in an effort to stave off habitat loss.

Savath Om, director of the NGO Fisheries Action Coalition Team, said that illegal fishing is a major factor in the decline.

But, he added, the fishery administration’s figures could be off, due to the industry underreporting in an effort to pay fewer taxes.

Additional reporting by Igor Kossov

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