The Fisheries Administration and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Friday officially launched a program to protect Cambodia’s coastline from over-fishing, erosion and other damage to coastal environments and livelihoods.
Since the beginning of the year, the program has been training local officials and residents in Cambodia’s four coastal provinces to patrol for illegal fishing and plant mangrove trees, which help prevent beach erosion and offer nutrients to coastal animals and plants, Fisheries Administration director Nao Thuok said.The program has trained more than 5,588 people, Thuok said, adding that the initiative had also provided communities with 13 patrol boats and several anti-trawling devices, which sit hidden underneath the water to snag and destroy illegal fishing nets.
The program is part of the FAO’s Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Program, which has supported local Southeast Asian fishing communities since 2009.
According to a FAO report on the program, “as coastal populations have increased in recent years, fish stocks have been depleted and the extent of mangroves has been much reduced due to demands for wood and timber, and for land for expansion of agriculture and aquaculture and residential development.”
Under the new initiative, Cambodian fishermen and government officials’ joint
patrols have stopped some 100 illegal fishing boats, confiscated more than 500 pieces of illegal fishing gear and planted 8,000 mangrove trees, Thuok said.
A 2012 study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature found that climate change and sand dredging had severely depleted Cambodia’s coastal mangrove populations, reduced fish stocks and caused beaches to recede by dozens of metres in many areas.