Officials carried out a raid Wednesday against fishermen using illegal nets without first consulting the Department of Fisheries, officials said.
POLICE arrested 230 fishermen allegedly using illegal nets on Tonle Sap lake Wednesday in a raid that drew protests from the director of the Department of Fisheries, who said he should have been consulted before it was conducted.
The raid took place in a part of Tonle Sap lake controlled by Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Thom provinces, so police from all three provinces as well as officials from the Ministry of Interior participated, said Penh Vibol, a prosecutor in Kampong Chhnang provincial court.
With so much coordination, the Department of Fisheries should have been involved as well, said Nao Thuok, director of the department, which is part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
"They did not tell us about the crackdown," he said.
But Penh Vibol maintained that the officials involved were not in the wrong, saying: "All authorities have the right to crack down in the nation's interest."
He said the raid targeted fishermen and boat owners who use illegal nets that are very fine, meaning they bring in many small fish in addition to the larger ones they are allowed to catch.
"When they use these fine nets, they are destroying freshwater fish in the lake," he said
Sam Chan Kea, Kampong Chhnang provincial coordinator for the NGO Adhoc, said Thursday that the raid was the first time authorities had taken action against the use of illegal nets, which he said had been going on for years.
"We applaud this crackdown because illegal fishing is dangerous to nature in the lake," Sam Chan Kea said. "They should have done this a long time ago, and they should continue to stop fishermen who are using illegal nets to catch fish."