At least 1,843 cases of illegal fishing were busted by the authorities in the last eight months and 19 out of 89 perpetrators were imprisoned by the court, said a report on the overall result of fisheries crimes cracked down nationwide.
The Post obtained the report from the Fisheries Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
“One hundred and fifteen cases out of 1,843 were sent to court. The fisheries administration imposed interim fines on perpetrators for 61 cases equivalent to a total of 142 million Riel ($35,697) while there were 1,667 cases where tools are confiscated or destroyed,” the report said.
With the increased rainfall sharply flooding creeks and lakes, which are habitats for fish spawning in the rainy season, fishing crimes have begun to take place again, especially in provinces around the Tonle Sap lake.
On September 16, fisheries administration officers and Military Police in Pursat province cracked down on fishing crimes in Kampong in Ansar Chambak commune, Krakor district.
They found and destroyed numerous fishing nets over 2,870m in length, as well as 1,780 posts, among other things, said Phum Vimol, the Pursat provincial fisheries administration officer.
According to fishing communities and local authorities in Kampong Leng district in Kampong Chhnang province and Kampong Svay district in Kampong Thom province, fishing crimes significantly increase when there are floods.
Hut Han, the chief of the Battambang provincial fishing community, said most of the perpetrators carried out activities at night by using boats powered by strong engines. Most of them used illegal tools such as a bonorav (a means of fishing), mouse-tail-fish traps and nets which seriously affected fishery resources and biodiversity.
Nguon Thearith, the Anlong Veng district Military Police commander in Oddar Meanchey province, said that a flooded forest next to Stung Sen creek and Tamok lake is a habitat for fish spawning and attracts illegal fishing methods such as bonorav and sai yoeun.
He said that after two days of patrols of creeks, lakes and areas in the flooded forest in Anlong Veng district on September 16-17, the authorities found and confiscated illegal tools to be destroyed, such as mosquito nets more than 300m long, and more than 200 wooden posts.
Apart from provinces next to Tonle Sap lake, fishing crimes also took place during the fishing ban in northeastern provinces and provinces along the lower Mekong river, including provinces such as Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Kandal and Prey Veng.
Pay Thorng Chhut, a representative of the fishing community in Talat commune, Sesan district, in Stung Treng province, told The Post that fishing crimes begun to take place again in some flooded forest plains.
These areas were located in the tributaries of the Sesan river, Sre Pok river and Sekong river after they were flooded in early September. Most of the perpetrators used fishing nets and electric shock tools,” he said.