Despite a blanket government ban on fishing lots on Tonle Sap lake, lots continue to operate and fishery crimes run rampant, NGO Coalition of Cambodian Fisheries director Long Sochet said at a fishermen’s roundtable yesterday.
The ban, announced by Prime Minister Hun Sen in February, prohibits all commercial fishing activities in the Tonle Sap lake in a bid to curb the destruction of fish resources there.
However, fishermen yesterday said the ban had not supported conservation at all.
“Since early March until now, the fishery crime has increased double in the surrounding areas of the Tonle Sap lake, and many areas of flooded forest, at least five hectares of each, were destroyed to cultivate dry-season rice,” Long Sochet said yesterday at the two-day national roundtable.
He said that studies conducted by CCF showed illegal fishermen were entering Beoung Peariang fishery conservation zone in Siem Reap province’s Chong Khneas area and had cut around nine hectares and five hectares respectively of flooded forest in conservation zones in Siem Reap and Kampong Chhnang provinces in order to access land for dry rice plantations.
Long Sochet abhorred that there had been no arrests or investigations from police into the illegal activity.
Por Samoeun, director of a fishering community in Pursat’s Kra kor district, said the recently issued declaration from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was confusing for fishermen.
“The declaration does not determine the number, length and size of fishing tools that can be used for family fishing, so it provides a loophole for rich traders to use large fishing traps and long-range gill nets to catch fish,” Por Samoeun said.
Kang Khim, fishery administration vice director at the Ministry of Agriculture, told the Post yesterday that the explosion of fishing crimes was a constant headache for the government.
“Only in March, the fishery administration’s officials cracked down on over 500 cases, but the crackdown is endless and happens every time and everywhere,” she said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at [email protected]