Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities have registered and inspected over 800 fishing vessels in an ongoing campaign, encompassing a total of more than 2,000 fishing boats spread across four districts.

Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche said on December 3 that the boat registration and technical inspection task is divided into two phases. The initial phase, preceding the official campaign launch, saw the provincial Department of Public Works and Transport registering 488 boats.

In the second phase, which began in September, the provincial administration, in collaboration with the public works department, initiated a campaign offering a 50 per cent discount on payment for fishermen registering and inspecting their boats. By November 30, a total of 403 fishing boats had undergone registration and inspection.

He said that registering boats and undergoing fishing technique inspections provides benefits for fishermen, ensuring the legality of their fishing businesses and facilitating market access, ultimately enabling the export of fishery products.

“Starting in 2024, fishermen lacking a boat license and technical inspection book will encounter administrative measures, including fines, and will be prohibited from fishing in Preah Sihanouk province,” Dimanche said.

He encourages all fishermen in the province to promptly register and inspect their vessels to secure incentives, legal protection and benefits from the provincial administration.

Hong Vanak, an economics researcher at the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that the authorities’ initiative facilitates the management of the number of fishing boats within its territory and aids in distinguishing them from boats of other nations in Cambodian waters.

“I see this initiative as ensuring peace, security and controlling the number of Cambodian fishing boats. Once managed, it will lead to a quantitative limit or payment of taxes, contributing to our society through the enhanced management of resources,” he said.

He said that contributing taxes is not a significant burden for fishermen, as authorities prepare for such decisions by considering the amount of fishing output. Vanak also urged fishermen to form a fishermen’s association to assert their rights and seek government assistance in responding to any challenges that may arise.

Dimanche provided an overview of fishing boat distribution in Preah Sihanouk province, stating a total of 2,523 fishing vessels across four towns and districts. Specifically, Preah Sihanouk town has 806 fishing boats, Stung Hav district has 569, Prey Nop district has 767 and other areas account for 381 fishing boats.

The registration and inspection campaign aims to enhance Cambodia’s efforts in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing within its maritime territories. It enables the prevention, deterrence, and elimination of IUU fishing throughout coastal provinces. 

A successful campaign implementation will also lead to the removal of the EU IUU “red card” from the Kingdom’s ports.

In November, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in partnership with the Fisheries Administration (FiA), conducted a training course in neighbouring Koh Kong province on essential components of the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA). This initiative is poised to further enhance efforts in combating IUU fishing within the Kingdom’s waters.