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Agriculture ministry calls for tighter protection of forests and fisheries

Agriculture ministry calls for tighter protection of forests and fisheries

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has directed its municipal and provincial departments to take measures to prevent forestry and fisheries crimes.

A letter released on June 19 said all offences related to illegal fishing, logging, seizing flooded forests, delivering forest products and stealing land by burning and bulldozing forests are outlawed but still happen noticeably at some provinces.

The ministry said it is ramping up its effort to ensure the effectiveness of natural resources management, especially concerning forests and fisheries.

Kampong Thom provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Pen Vannarith told The Post on Tuesday that he read the letter.

The letter aimed to remind provincial officials of their duties, he said, adding that his team had continuously worked to preventing the offences.

He said Kampong Thom has a large area of flooded land and fisheries conservation areas.

Vannarith said there used to be culprits who stole land, but authorities and experts cracked down on them, and the suspects were sent to court.

“The letter aims to remind officials not to forget their duties. The ministry reminded us more about achieving effectiveness in our work,” he said.

Kampot provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries deputy director Hean Norn on Tuesday said there used to be cases of land-grabbing, especially in the Prey Kong Kang mangrove forest along the creek and seafront.

The price of land in some areas has increased dramatically, Norn said, adding that some opportunists steal state land to sell it.

“Kampot administration, district authorities and experts from the ministry have taken legal measures on many of these cases. Some cases went to court as implementation of the law was strengthened. It also served as a warning to others,” Norn said.

Adhoc community empowerment officer Pen Bunna said on Tuesday that he had previously released letters reminding municipal and provincial officials to perform their duties.

But he said the work of some provincial officials was ineffective. There is no prevention or solution besides appealing to higher authorities to intervene, he said.

“If the ministry knows that there are still offences and officials cannot tackle them, the secretary of state, under-secretary of state and other high ranking officials should file complaints about offenders who abused the law.

“If they do so, it will be very powerful. I believe that no one would dare abuse the law if that is done,” Bunna said.

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