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Illegal fishing on the rise

I

LLEGAL fishing is on the rise this year as increased flood levels

allow outlaw anglers to operate deeper in the underbrush and away from

authorities, fisheries officials say.

"Illegal fishing has increased in the stretches of water far removed

from the local administration offices," Nao Thuok, chief of the Fishery

Administration, said last week.

Fisheries officials are scrambling to curb the practice, issuing 20,000

litres of petrol and diesel so that patrol boats can go farther into

the countryside's flooded forests and fields, but little impact has

been had, say NGOs familiar with the problem.

According to an official from the NGO Fishery Action Coalition Team,

who requested anonymity, illegal fishing operations are rising "because

higher flood levels deep in the forest mean illegal fishermen can hide

from the authorities, or because of bribery between fishermen and

authorities".

He added that so far this year "no noticeable action" had been taken.

North of Phnom Penh, fishing is suspended from June 1 to September 30,

while south of the capital fishing is banned from July 1 to October 31

to allow fish to spawn and replenish, which are a major source of

protein for much of the population.

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