Villagers in Siem Reap’s Sotr Nikum district sayd they were blocked by local authorities from travelling to Siem Reap on Tuesday to protest a recent ban on collecting shellfish.
Fisherman Sngem Deun said that local police in Kampong Khlaing commune prevented his group of villagers from boarding a bus headed to Siem Reap because they thought the villagers would cause trouble. “Police asked us to write our names down and how many villagers wanted to go to Siem Reap,” he said.
Village representative Horn Mao said that more than 80 families in his village had been adversely affected by an August ban that prevented them from using machines to collect shellfish. “They didn’t reveal the reason and now there’s nothing we can do. Our lives, our families, our children are dependent on this livelihood,” he said.
Horn Mao was able to travel to Siem Reap city on Monday night, ahead of the police’s blockage efforts, and said he aimed to meet with parliament member Sieng Nam for help. “I would like to meet with Sieng Nam, however, I really don’t know if I can meet with him or not,” he said.
The prohibition was issued after an investigation by the Tonle Sap Authority revealed that most families in the village were fishing with a machine, commune chief Pa Bo told the Post.
Minh Bunlly, an official with the Fisheries Action Coalition Team based in Siem Reap, said that the practice of catching shellfish with a machine was illegal, citing the 2007 Law on Water Resource Management. “Using a machine to collect shellfish threatens other species in the river,” he said.