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Fisheries law reform

Fisheries law reform

We wish to respond to the article regarding the fisheries reforms ("Fisheries law reform caught in troubled waters", Post, February 10).

While we welcome attention to this important topic, the article is unfortunately misleading in its characterization of the current situation and erroneous in the way it cites background research.

The article cites information from two WorldFish Center publications, the report Cambodian Inland Fisheries by Eric Baran, and a policy review essay by Blake Ratner in the journal Society and Natural Resources (wrongly referred to as a "January statement").

What it fails to note is that many of the statements cited refer to the situation before and immediately after the reforms (2000-2001), including open access, a surge in illegal fishing, and conflicts between lot owners and villagers. The sentence referring to "fishing lot owners reported to be refusing to release areas assigned for public fishing" is itself a quotation, duly referenced, from a report of the Fisheries Action Coalition Team, published in 2001.

Other information is misrepresented as well. For example, the figure of 164 fishing lots refers to the count in 2003, and includes all types of lots such as the Tonle Sap bagnets (Dai trey linh) and shrimp lots that were not addressed by the fisheries reform. The reforms primarily addressed the barrage lots, which numbered 81 in 2003.

The article leaves the impression that the Department of Fisheries and the WorldFish Center are disputing current trends when in fact our two institutions are working together to assess the status of Cambodia's fisheries and the serious policy and institutional challenges that remain.

Readers interested in learning more about the issue are encouraged to consult publications available at www.ifredi.org and www.worldfishcenter.org

Nao Thuok
Director General

Department of Fisheries
Blake D Ratner
Regional Director

Greater Mekong WorldFish Center

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