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Fishermen seek changes to net rules

A fisherman washes his hand-made net in Tonle Sap lake, in Siem Reap province. Image: Reuters
A fisherman washes his hand-made net in Tonle Sap lake, in Siem Reap province. Image: Reuters

Fishermen seek changes to net rules

More than 100 fishermen from the Tonle Sap lake protested the government’s new campaign against illegal fishing and sought an adjustment of fishing regulations, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said yesterday.

Kheng said the fishermen from Kampong Thom, Pursat and Battambang province wanted to hand a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen, after authorities began cracking down on illegal fishing earlier this month.

The fishermen asked to extend the legal maximum length of fishing nets from 50 metres to between 300 and 500 metres, Kheng said.

Heng Mono, Phat Sanday commune chief in Kampong Thom, said the fishermen were stopped in Kampong Chhnang on their way to Phnom Penh.

“They complain that the crackdown campaign against illegal fishing [negatively] affects their living conditions . . . but it is the principle of the government to also protect fish,” he said.

Fisherman Nget Sam, however, said yesterday that “only 50-metre-long fishing nets [makes it] difficult to fish; we cannot sustain our living conditions”.

Eric Baran, a researcher at the NGO WorldFish, said that while this demand reflected a need to catch fish to earn an income, increasing the maximum length would “correspond to an increased pressure on the fish resource”, which could threaten sustainability.

“There is currently no assessment in Cambodia telling how far we can reasonably go,” he said.

Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski

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