The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has urged authorities in Pursat province to take action against illegal fishing in the Tonle Sap after a video posted online showed a group of men hauling in huge catches from the former Fishing Lot 6, an important conservation area in the river.
The letter, sent on June 26 by Minister Ouk Rabun, said the ministry was disheartened to see video evidence of fishermen encroaching on the protected area, located in Kandieng district.
Ministry spokesman Eang Sophalleth confirmed yesterday that the letter was sent in response to the video clip.
“We want local authorities to cooperate with us to prevent [and] crack down on crimes in protected areas,” he said. “We are not sure if it really happened, since we did not go down to the site yet.”
Phum Nimol, the director of the fisheries administration in Pursat, said illegal fishing was rampant in the area.
He said the authorities have been actively combating the activity, “but there are too many thieves”.
Minh Bunly, a program coordinator for the Fisheries Action Coalition Team, welcomed the alert but urged the government to reconsider taking action against offenders.
“What I see inside conservation areas is that most of the offenses are carried out by the rich and powerful and not just residents,” he said.
Nimol, however, denied that this was the case.