Villagers, including small children, cast their nets into Prek Tnout River in the capital’s Dangkor district yesterday in a rush to catch fish of a different kind: the poisoned type.
Authorities were not exactly sure how hundreds of fish ended up floating on the water or washed up on the banks of the river in Prek Kampeus commune, but villagers suspected pollution was to blame.
“Water in the river has turned blue and smelled bad in the past couple of weeks,” villager Khem Vuthy said.
“I think the poisoned fish had lived in sewage flowing from Boeung Tumpun [lake in Meanchey district].”
Vuthy said villagers had rushed to gather as many fish as they could, but were not sure whether they were safe to eat.
“People gathered the dead fish. Some cast their nets and some caught them by hand. I caught about two or three kilograms myself,” he said, adding some planned to marinate their “catches”.
Prek Kampeus commune chief Chhum Chheang said there was no waste from factories flowing into the river, only water from Boeung Tumpun.
“The water is naturally clear, but the heat and flow of dirty water could have played a part in the fish’s deaths.
A Phnom Penh environmental department official said his team had not yet investigated the matter but suggested heat could have played a part.