Chrey Thom (CV3-B) - Cambodia's border control authority captured a Vietnamese
fishing boat which tried to illegally ship newly born fish from Cambodia to Vietnam,
and accused them of destroying Cambodia's natural resources.
Lt. Col. Roeun Nara, a border police officer, said on August 2 his patrol team stopped
the boat at the Chrey Thom border checkpoint (CV3-B) and managed to bring it to the
shore, but were forced to let it free after they were threatened by a group of gunmen,
who appeared to be protecting the boat.
"While we were investigating the boat and were preparing to take the baby fish
for evidence, two men leveled AK-47s and a small gun at us," the colonel said.
"They shot two bullets into the air and warned the team against seizing the
boat, otherwise they would sacrifice their lives for it," he said, adding that
in such situation he had to be patient to avoid bloodshed and ordered his subordinates
not to provoke an armed clash.
The owner, along with the boat was set free. The two gunmen successfully escaped,
taking with them a pistol from the border police, he said.
During the monsoon season, when the current of the river reverses and begins to fill
the Tonle Sap lake, fish begin to lay their eggs. Fishing in the lake is strictly
prohibited at this time because of the great damage it could do to fish stocks.
"Preventing Vietnamese fishing boats from entering is a good idea, because when
they come they steal the fish from us," Vit Thiridh, a Fishery Department official
based in Chrey Thom, said.
"This is not the first time that the authorities here have found illegal catches
of baby fish. They [Vietnamese] always hire police or military forces to protect
them while shipping the fish to Vietnam," he said.
"There's no fish of this breed in Vietnam's waters, that's why they have to
take it out of our country," he said, adding that the fish would be grown in
ponds until they were big enough to be sold.
He estimated the catch at about 150,000 fish, which he said was worth approximately
US $10,000. He said that with cooperation from the Vietnamese authorities in neighboring
Long Bin province the boat along with the fish was later handed over to Cambodian
authorities, but two thirds of its haul was missing.
The identity of the owner of the fishing boat was still unknown, he said.