THE government must impose limits on the amount of fish inland commercial fisheries can catch, small-scale fishermen and environmentalists said Wednesday.
“Our fish resources have been reduced by illegal fishing and climate change,” Long Sochet, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Fishermen, said after a meeting between NGO and Ministry of Environment officials. “It has caused a big impact to the livelihood of families in fishing communities,” he said, adding that commercial fishing multiplies their woes.
The fishermen are also demanding the government relax restrictions on what kind of gear they can use. A proposed law would limit the size of fishing nets, for example, to a 30-metre maximum.
“Some fishermen have been arrested and sent to jail because they were caught fishing to support their families’ livelihoods by using illegal gear,” Long Sochet said.
However, Nao Thuok, director of the Fisheries Administration, said he would not move to limit commercial fisheries catches.
Nao Thuok said small-scale fishermen enjoy year-round fishing, whereas commercial operations are banned from fishing for three months every year. He also warned that not restricting the size and scale of fishing gear would devastate the industry. “The natural resource will be destroyed by family fishing if we allow them to use massive fishing materials,” Nao Thuok said.
Sixty people have been arrested this year and accused of illegal fishing, Nao Thuok said, and 40 were convicted.