Members of the fishing community and the fisheries authority said on Tuesday that freshwater fish yields might be greater than that of last year, while fishing crimes have risen in the flooded forest areas surrounding the Tonle Sap lake.
The Coalition of Cambodian Fishing Communities president Long Sochhet said the water in the Tonle Sap lake is deep and wide, and the water has yet to recede at the flooded forests in the area.
As conditions are favourable for the fish and biodiversity to live and grow, fisheries officials and relevant authorities have intercepted more fishing crimes than last year.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries deputy director-general Srun Limsong said that from November 15 to 19, large fish species such as the Laotian shad and trumpeter perch might outnumber smaller fish.
“It is typical that if the water is [deep], the fish yield will increase. On the other hand, regular crackdowns this year has achieved good results, so we expect fish paste [yield] this year to be greater than in previous years,” Limsong said.
Sochhet expressed concern after receiving a report from the Coalition of Cambodian Fishing Communities networks. They patrol flooded forests and encountered the use of prohibited illuminated fishing nets in the flooded forests.
Sochhet said the crimes took place in the vicinities of Ansar Chambak commune, Kampong Luong commune, and Boeung Rang Til lake in Pursat province’s Krakor district.
The crimes also took place in Prey Chas and Koh Chivaing communes in Battambang province’s Ek Phnom district, Peam Bang commune in Kampong Thom province’s Stoung district, and Stung Chrov village in Chi Kraeng district’s Anlong Samnor commune, in Siem Reap province.
Battambang provincial fishing community head Hut Han, who patrols Prey Chas and Koh Chivaing communes, said besides using the illegal devices, the perpetrators used fishing nets that can cause serious damage to the fish and biodiversity in Tonle Sap lake.
“Schools of small fish were caught with illegal devices. Based on estimations, 30 to 40 tonnes of small fish are caught each night. This is deeply concerning since it can reduce fish yields,” Han said.
Kampong Thom provincial fisheries administration chief Pen Vannarith confirmed to The Post on Tuesday that the fisheries crimes occurred in Peam Bang commune and other areas in Tonle Sap lake and that experts, officials, and fishing community members have worked to prevent and intercept them.
“On Monday, experts working with the local armed forces intercepted four cases and seized four batteries, four 1.2-metre posts, four sets of fishing nets, and 200kg of small fish."
“The perpetrators usually [work] at night as we lack [personnel] and the means to patrol the affected areas,” Vannarith said.
Han said the authorities know clearly the fishermen’s mode of operation, but ignored them so they could commit fisheries crimes.
“For instance, tree branches are used as a habitat in the river and other areas in Tonle Sap lake. People pile up tree branches on the riverside and transport [them] by boat to flooded forests, but the authorities do not intercept [them]."
“The authorities intercepted [the perpetrators that] arranged and wrapped [tree branches] with 3,000 to 4,000 metres of fishing net. This working style is a waste of time, effort and the national budget,” Han said.