Following criticism by social media users who posted aerial photos of fishing traps and claimed illegal fishing was happening in Tonle Sap Lake, the Fisheries Administration (FiA) investigated the matter.

The FiA found that the practice involved arrow-shaped traps, which have been used by local residents in a specific part of Kampong Thom province. 

The photos showing these traps were widely shared on Facebook, raising concerns about their impact on fish populations.

However, in a statement released on February 27, the FiA clarified that this practice is legal and restricted to a small area within the lake. Specifically, it occurs in "Kanlok Bay Ka'aek," located in Phat Sanday commune, Kampong Svay district, Kampong Thom province. This area represents only a tiny fraction of Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Asia.

The FiA explained that thousands of families reside in this area. During the rainy season, when the lake expands, they disperse across a broader area. However, as the water level recedes during the dry season, the remaining fishing area shrinks, prompting them to concentrate their arrow-shaped traps in closer proximity.

The statement emphasised that the arrow-shaped traps are legal as long as the mesh size and length comply with fishery regulations. The FiA and relevant authorities routinely inspect these traps for compliance and remove any exceeding the legal dimensions. While some photos depicted poles, the FiA clarified that the nets attached had already been removed.

The statement further highlighted the close collaboration between the FiA and local communities to ensure adherence to the law while maintaining flexibility, thereby safeguarding the livelihoods of local residents. The FiA remains steadfast against any illegal fishing practices or equipment.

The FiA encouraged the public to seek accurate information and avoid being misled by incomplete or inaccurate reports. 

Additionally, the statement mentioned the recent efforts of the inter-ministerial committee for combating fisheries crimes, which successfully confiscated and destroyed a significant amount of illegal fishing equipment in Tonle Sap Lake, including 1,650,617 metre-long illegal fishing net, 15,229 traps and 1,473 illegal electric fishing tools, along with many other forbidden materials.

Picture of arrow-shaped traps shared on social media. FB