During the first 10 months of this year, there were 2,279 cases of fishery offences reported, 312 less than the same period last year, according to the Fisheries Administration. Of the number, 187 occurred at sea while the rest occurred on freshwater.

In a report published on November 9, it said the drop in fishery offences this year was a result of collaboration and prevention efforts among fishery officers, local authorities and the fishing community.

The report said 141 of the cases were sent to the courts. Seven of the 181 suspects involved in the cases were sentenced to between one and five years in prison for using illegal fishing tools in fishery conservation areas.

In 101 cases, officers issued fines totalling 230.7 million riel ($56,540). In 2,037 of the cases, evidence was destroyed or confiscated, including fishing nets, fishing poles and electric fishing devices.

Fisheries Administration officials released 37,177kg of different types of fish retrieved from offenders to natural lakes.

Besides the fishery offences, experts have expressed concern about the drop in water levels in the Mekong River this year.

Kampong Chhnang Fisheries Administration chief Ly La told The Post on November 9 that although there is a noticeable drop of fishery offences this year, there is less freshwater.

“Tonle Sap Lake receives its water from the Mekong River to broaden its scope and provide shelter and rich foods for all kinds of fish. This year, the water level in the Mekong River is abnormal. Especially in the season that fish lay eggs, the water level of the river is so little that it is not convenient for fish to move and lay eggs,” he said.

According to La, rains during the past month improved fish survival and helped biodiversity in rivers and lakes. However, expecting good results or high amounts like other years is not possible, he said.

He called on relevant authorities and fishermen to continue to cooperate and prevent fishery offences in all ways to ensure the sustainability of fish in the country.