The pumping of sand for the construction of a new international port on the Kingdom’s coast is damaging livelihoods, local fishermen say
Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
A boy fishing in Kampot last month.
FISHING communities in Kampot province have requested that national authorities set aside 2,000 hectares of fishing lots for local anglers, amidst concerns a sand-pumping firm off the south coast is impacting catches in the province's fishery conservation zones.
Keom Da, chief of the Roluos fishing community, said 5,000 hectares of fishing lots have been set aside for the use of four Kampot fishing communities since 2005, but that the City Power Group Corp is pumping sand from the conservation areas for use in the construction of the new international port in Kampot province.
"We need all the investors to come and invest in our country, including Kampot, but we also need 2,000 hectares of fishing lots for our families' daily life," she said, adding that the company's dredging had diminished the rich biodiversity of Cambodia's saltwater fisheries.
Nou Srey, 44, a fisherwoman in the Totoeng Thgai fishing community, said that she and other villagers have complained to Kampot Governor Thach Khorn a few times, but said the provincial authorities always pretend not to hear the people's concerns.
"We want to talk directly to [officials from City Power Group] to explain to them our concerns and our real purposes, that we need just 2,000 hectares of fishing lots," Nou Srey said.
Wing Hour, managing director of City Power Group, said that he was happy to meet people to discuss their problems, but requested that people also take into account the demands of development projects in Kampot province.
Fishing lots are our rice pots. We will be dying if there is not a good solution.
"Now the people are worrying about my development projects, but I strongly believe that they will be happy after they receive the benefits from some of my project," he said. "I don't want to see the fishermen in Kampot living in poverty, from hand to mouth, so I have created jobs to change their livelihoods."
But Kep Thmey Fishery Association chief Chun Chhum said that the government should send the experts from relevant institutions to evaluate the impact of the construction of the new port by City Power Group.
"Our living relies on fishing, and fishing lots are our rice pots. But now the company has pumped the sea sand and buried our pots," he said. "We will be dying if the government does not find a good solution."