Fishing season has officially begun and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has encouraged people to apply for permits and respect the law as they set lures, nets and traps to catch their haul.
The 2019-20 fishing season varies between five to eight months depending on the location, a ministry announcement said on September 26.
The season will run from October 1 to May 31 in Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Kratie, Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri, Preah Vihear, Pailin and Oddar Meanchey provinces.
The waters of Stung Treng province will be open to fishermen from October 1 to May 1.
Some residents of the capital and Kandal province who live north of the Chaktomuk River will also be able to trawl for fish until the end of May.
Meanwhile, people who live south of the river in Phnom Penh and Kandal, Prey Veng, Takeo, Kampong Speu and Svay Rieng provinces will be allowed to fish from November 1 until June 30.
The ministry’s Fishing Administration director Eng Chea San told The Post that families and recreational fishermen would be allowed to use household products to catch fish during the season, but businesses must apply for a permit.
“[Those doing business] are obliged to pay taxes and the fishing fee to the state to comply with regulations,” he said.
He said commercial fishermen – who often use the large fishing nets known as manh – are also obliged to request instruction from the ministry’s technical authorities on regulations and proper procedures to ensure that they work sustainably.
Fisheries Action Coalition Team executive director Om Sarath told The Post he feared the output of fish would decrease this year since water levels have yet to return to normal since the end of the dry season.
“We cannot predict the output for this year because the fishing season just opened, but we can see that water levels are rising slowly and affecting the migration of fish that travel from the Tonle Sap River to the Mekong River to spawn.
“Secondly, we see that hydropower dams disrupt the movement of fish, so we do not expect the output of fish to increase or be equal to last year’s catch,” Sarath said.
The government has instituted several measures in the past two decades to preserve the fish stock. This includes converting fishing lots into communal fishing communities.
Large businesses would bid for exclusive two-year fishing rights in wetlands, ponds, lakes and rivers to the ire of fishing communities until the practice was turned over through a series of reforms by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The ministry reported that 1,843 cases of illegal fishing were busted during last year’s fishing season – with 19 out of 89 perpetrators being imprisoned.
Sarath said the authorities needed to redouble efforts to prevent illegal practices during this year’s fishing season to preserve the Kingdom’s stock.
“Since the government banned fishing lots across the country in 2000 and 2012, families and fishing communities have played a major role in contributing to the management of the fisheries sector.
“Some opportunists still used illegal equipment behind the authorities’ back and protection from the fishing communities is still limited,” he said.