Over the past two years, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries detained 31 offenders and confiscated more than 1,400 electrofishing implements in the six provinces bordering Tonle Sap Lake.

The ministry’s report, dated February 27, detailed the extent of the crackdown which began on March 23, 2022. 

As of February 26, confiscated equipment included 768,211 fishing poles, 119 electric tools, 90 nets of various types, 33 cast nets measuring over 1650km in total, 1,473 electrofishing implements, 176 boats, 84 engines and 15,229 pieces of other equipment.

In addition to the confiscations, the ministry sent 71 cases to court, with 20 summonses issued and 31 individuals detained over the last two years.

“The detention of the perpetrators and the confiscation of the equipment have occurred in the provinces bordering Tonle Sap Lake, including Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom and Banteay Meanchey,” stated the ministry.

According to the report, the secretariat has received information about fisheries crimes from citizens and the media on 15 occasions over the past two years. All information received by the secretariat is consistently interpreted, clarified and referred to the operational team for investigation, prevention and suppression.

Battambang provincial deputy governor Soeum Bunrith stated that the crackdown on fishing crimes in the province has been a regular and long-standing effort, not just a recent initiative. 

He noted that despite regular enforcement, some offences persist, such as the use of electrofishing equipment and other illegal fishing gear at night, which the authorities have not been able to completely suppress.

“Nowadays, we are implementing educational measures to raise awareness and encourage the handover of illegal equipment to the agriculture ministry. Additionally, we have implemented administrative measures, including confiscation, especially when illegal equipment is discovered but still concealed. In such cases, we will enforce the law,” he said.

“At the same time, the Battambang provincial authorities are taking action against traders who sell nets and all types of fishing gear in violation of ministry regulations. Those selling illegal fishing gear will be penalised in the same manner as the perpetrators,” he added.