THE Battambang fisheries department on Monday destroyed nearly 400 devices used to electrocute fish as part of a broader effort to curb illegal fishing in the province, the department’s director said.
“Trying to catch fish by electrocuting them has a very bad effect on the fish, and also on plankton and the general ecological system in the water. It can also kill the fishermen,” Heng Pisith said.
He added that fishermen caught employing the illegal method – in which car batteries are connected to fishing equipment to shock it – face between three and five years in jail if caught.
The practice seems to be widespread, Heng Pisith said, citing, as evidence, a survey conducted last July by the department in 18 communes around the Tonle Sap lake. In that survey, 1,000 families in fishing communities said they had tried electrocuting fish.
Ek Samon, chief of Cham Ro-A village, said he had collected 49 devices used to electrocute fish from families in his village and had turned them over to the department.
He said he believed the department’s effort to discourage illegal fishing had already been effective.
“My villagers have stopped using illegal fishing methods, such as electrocuting fish, using illegal nets or trawling, and now they are beginning to breed fish to promote their livelihoods and protect the natural rivers and lakes of Cambodia,” he said.