The Tonle Sap Authority will resume efforts to destroy illegal reservoirs surrounding the Tonle Sap lake next month, after heavy summer rains suspended attempts earlier this year.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the Tonle Sap Authority to destroy the reservoirs, which he said were a threat to fish stocks and forests. Fisheries officials also said the reservoirs were a threat to the lake’s long-term biodiversity and water levels.
Chan Yutha, general secretary of the Tonle Sap Authority, said 240 illegal reservoirs were identified across six provinces surrounding the lake, with most falling in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces. He said that 30 reservoirs had been destroyed by the summer.
“The Tonle Sap Authority will continue the campaign to destroy illegal reservoirs, without any exceptions, for all offenders … surrounding the lake starting in the dry season, or at least by mid-January,” he said.
Officials say farmers have been using the illegal reservoirs to trap fish, as well as boosting rice yields.
Um Men, chief of the Sandan fishery community in Kampong Thom province, confirmed that reservoirs had been destroyed in his province, though some farmers continued to use them for rice cultivation.
“If the Tonle Sap Authority is late to demolish the illegal reservoirs, the fishing resources and the flooded forests in that area will not get better.”
Ou Bosphan, director of the Agriculture Department in Kampong Thom province, said he’s warned the farmers to stop using illegal reservoirs, but added they were hoping to cultivate their rice paddies before the crackdown.