Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Artificial coral reef started off Sihanoukville



Artificial coral reef started off Sihanoukville

Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha (right) places coral on a submerged shipping container that he hopes will become an artificial reef off Koh Rong Sanloem on Saturday. Photo supplied
Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha (right) places coral on a submerged shipping container that he hopes will become an artificial reef off Koh Rong Sanloem on Saturday. Photo supplied

Artificial coral reef started off Sihanoukville

Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha and local dive businesses took restoring marine ecology into their own hands on Saturday by dropping two shipping containers in the waters off Koh Rong Sanloem in an effort to create an artificial reef – much to the surprise of officials charged with managing those waters.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Governor Yon Min said yesterday that the plan to create an artificial reef has been a long time in the making and has previously involved dropping segments of cement drainage pipes to serve as structures for corals to grow on.

“The two containers are sponsored by Oknha [tycoon] Tea Vichet and [his brother] Oknha Tea Sokha,” he said.

However, Deputy Provincial Fisheries Administration Chief Hok Lam yesterday said he was never told about the plan.

“We created a model area for protection. As for putting the containers, I saw the pictures on Facebook, but I did not know … because they did not contact me,” he said.

The containers were placed in shallow waters off of a beach controlled by the military on the island of Koh Rong Sanloem. But thanks to last year’s creation of the Marine Fisheries Management Area – the Kingdom’s first attempt at a marine conservation area in the waters around the Koh Rong archipelago – the spot where the containers were placed would fall under the jurisdiction of the provincial Fisheries Administration.

Divers place coral on one of the two shipping containers that were submerged in an effort to grow a coral reef off of Koh Rong Sanloem on Saturday. Photo supplied
Divers place coral on one of the two shipping containers that were submerged in an effort to grow a coral reef off of Koh Rong Sanloem on Saturday. Photo supplied

Lam said the only project he had been aware of was one to demarcate the MFMA in collaboration with the conservation group Flora and Fauna International.

“Normally, for something like that they should inform us, but why don’t we know about it?” Lam asked.

Contacted yesterday, FFI marine conservation project manager Kate West said the group was also unaware of the reef-building, though she declined to comment further.

Pierre Kann, a hotel owner, diver and founder of Save Cambodian Marine Life who helped plant the containers on Saturday, yesterday maintained that marine ecology experts had been consulted prior to the project, but said they were unavailable to speak to reporters yesterday.

Sokha, meanwhile, maintained that a national committee had approved the project in conjunction with the provincial government, though he did not specify which agencies were involved.

He added that he intends to place more containers in the coming weeks, insisting that the reefs will create new fish habitats, dissuade fishing, and grow the coral and fish populations, attracting dive tourism.

While aware of the MFMA’s jurisdiction, Sokha said, “we have to do whatever it takes to make the fish and coral increase”.

The original headline for this article stated that the artificial reef was 'in' Sihanoukville. It has been corrected to 'off'. The Post apologises for the error.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants