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Fishermen protest over illegal 'fees'

ABOUT 50 fishermen from Siem Reap province’s Sotr Nikum district have gathered to protest the levying of illegal fishing “fees” by local authorities, a problem officials promised to solve within five days.

Vy Sarin, one of the protesters, said yesterday that about 50 fishermen from Kampong Klaing commune set out to gather at Siem Reap provincial hall in an effort to seek assistance from the provincial governor, but were blocked by district authorities.

He said that Sotr Nikum district governor Din Dorn then promised to inform the provincial governor about the plight of the fishermen and would inform them of the outcome within five days.

“We will protest to the provincial governor again if our problem isn’t resolved by the timeline that the district governor set for us,” Vy Sarin said.

Fishermen claim that local military police and fisheries officials frequently extort money from local people, and that previous entreaties to commune and district authorities have gone unanswered.

Fisherwoman Ly Ni said the fishermen have to pay about 15,000 riels (US$3.75) per day in kickbacks to local authorities to be allowed to fish in the commune, but that she could only afford to give authorities around 5,000 riels ($1.25) per day.

“I only get about 30,000 to 40,000 riels [$7.50-$10] per day to support my family, so if they take this money from me then I will die soon,” she said.

District governor Din Dorn confirmed yesterday that he had reported the fishermen’s concerns to the provincial governor, but said it is not clear when he will receive a response.

Meanwhile, he said the fishermen will be allowed to continue working, but will continue having to shell out for the “fees”.  

Tim Savuth, director of the Siem Reap provincial Fisheries Administration, could not be reached yesterday.

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