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Anglers oppose new fishing law

Anglers oppose new fishing law

091028_04
A fisherman prepares his boat in a fishing village on Ochheuteal Creek in Sihanoukville.

A PROPOSAL to limit the size of small-scale fishing gear could severely impact the catches of fishery communities who rely on the industry to survive, critics said Tuesday, as officials continued to hammer out a law on fishery regulations.

Fisheries Administration officials are proposing to limit the size of fish nets used for subsistence fishing to 30 metres. The fishermen would also be limited to 300 crab traps.

However, one fisherman argues the constraints could cause dependent communities to face food shortages.

“We will not catch enough fish to feed us with this draft law,” said Hout Hor, a fisherman from Kampot province.

He said the dire situation for fishery-dependent communities is compounded by the rise of illegal fishing and controversial sand-dredging .

“We demand that the Fisheries Administration allow us to use fish nets at least 50 metres long and 350 crab traps,” he said.

Even a 50-metre limit may not be adequate, said fisheries advocate Choun Bunra, programme coordinator for the Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT) in Sihanoukville.

“One severe threat comes from [fishermen’s] inability to make a decent living with gear determined to be illegal” under the draft law, he said.

Doung Samath, director of the provincial Fisheries Administration in Preah Sihanouk province, said the proposal is merely a draft at this stage.

“We need to hear the concerns from fishery families before” the draft becomes finalised, he said.

The government hopes to finalise the draft next year. Cambodia passed its Fisheries Law in 2006, but critics charge that the exact regulations governing fishing gear have not yet been clarified.

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