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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen calls for end to illegal fishing

Hun Sen calls for end to illegal fishing

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A young fisherman steers his craft on the way to prime fishing areas on the Tonle Bassac near Phnom Penh. Prime Minister Hun Sen has appealed to local authorities and fishermen to stop the rampant illegal fishing that is threatening Cambodia's fish resource.

F

ollowing a report from fisheries experts that there has been an increase in Cambodia's

fish catch endangering some fish species, Prime Minister Hun Sen has appealed to

local authorities and fishermen not to fish illegally during the off season, when

fishing is banned.

"Do not commit fishing crimes that destroy the fish breeding; this will cause

the decline of fishing resources," Hun Sen said in a speech on July 1 while

attending a ceremony to release 500,000 fish fingerlings in Sihanoukville.

The fishing season is suspended between June 1 and September 30 for the areas north

of Chatomuk, and between July 1 and October 31 south of Chatomuk, according to Yin

Dara, Fisheries Program Officer of Oxfam GB.

Hun Sen said the government is fighting against unregulated fishing and forestry

crimes around the Tonle Sap in order to maintain fishery resources.

Nao Thuok, director of the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Forestry and Fisheries,

said on July 6 that the department has taken measures to fight unregulated fishing

during the off season.

"Small-scale illegal fishing still occurs, but it will not threaten fish resources,"

Thuok said.

He said the Fisheries Department has contributed at least 2,000 liters of fuel for

patrol boats in each provincial fishery around the Tonle Sap.

Thuok said fisheries experts monitoring the migration of newborn fish expressed concern

that young fish were not able to migrate because of unusual water level patterns.

But Dara told the Post that illegal fishing, specifically of the vulnerable young

fish, still occurs during the prohibited times and will lead to a decline in the

overall fisheries yield in the future.

Dara said ten fisheries were monitored by a network of environmental NGOs that have

received funding from Oxfam GB since 2001 to promote sustainable fishing resources.

He said the NGOs each receive an average of $20,000 a year, and those have worked

with 78 of the 448 fishing communities across the country.

"We want to encourage cooperation between the fishing communities and the local

authorities to fight illegal fishing within their fishing areas," Dara said.

He said the entrepreneurs who bought the fish catch to sell in the market were a

problem, because they supplied illegal equipment to facilitate a large catch.

"They buy cheap electrocution equipment and give it to the fishermen,"

Dara said.

Em Channarith, acting director of the Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT), said

it was too early to give an account of illegal fishing during the banned timeframe,

but that illegal activities designed to catch baby fish continue.

"We haven't received any reports from the local fishing communities yet,"

said Channarith. "We have set up fisheries network and kept monitoring on the

issues."

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