Dear Your Majesty,
I know you must be very busy, but there is an urgent matter that needs your attention!
A number of international non-government organizations (NGOs), Lao fishermen, and
Cambodian villagers are extremely concerned about the enormous amount of explosives
fishing that has taken place in the Mekong River in Stung Treng province this year.
My organization is working with local people on the Lao side of the Cambodia/Lao
border to conserve drastically decreasing fish stocks in the Mekong River for future
generations of Laotians and Cambodians, and the huge amount of explosives use for
fishing in Cambodia is one of the serious problems that needs to be solved in order
to achieve this goal.
Between January and May, 1993, I personally heard 10 to 20 "bombs" going
off a day in the Mekong River along the border. I have also seen the "bombing"
with my own eyes on numerous occasions. It indiscriminately kills both juveniles
and mature fish, and only a small portion of the fish that die can be retrieved when
this wasteful method is used. The UNTAC river command in Stung Treng claims it has
been unable to control this destruction because of the remoteness of the area. While
this destructive fishing methods is only occasionally used in Stung Treng during
the high-water rainy season, villagers and my organization are concerned that usage
will increase again, as it has every year for the last 10 years or more, once the
water levels begin to go down in December.
The local government is turning a blind eye to the problem, and it is widely known
that soldiers from the Cambodian People's Party have been actively selling explosives
to villagers. They also engage in the practice themselves, even though it is against
Cambodian laws to do so! Local Cambodian and Lao fishermen are afraid to speak up
against the destruction, which will ultimately affect countless numbers of villagers
who eat fish from the lower Mekong River, but they are very concerned. Rare river
dolphins in the area have also been killed by explosives.
Local Lao government officials have asked the Stung Treng government to stop people
from using explosives to catch fish, but no action has been taken by the authorities.
Meanwhile, whole fish populations are being decimated by the practice, which is also
injuring many of the explosives users themselves. Children are often recruited to
do this dangerous job. The explosives are even for sale in the Stung Treng market!
Your help in solving this problem would be greatly appreciated by the international
community and local people in Cambodia and Laos. The future of people living along
the Mekong River depends on it.
I appeal, in the name of future generations of Cambodians and Laotians, for your
Majesty's help to ensure that the new Cambodian government stops this explosives
My organization would also like to take this opportunity to express our support for
your initiatives to protect Cambodia's forests and environment from further destruction.
Future generations will certainly appreciate you for working to conserve and restore
- Ian Baird Regional Director Earth Island Institute