Royal Academy of Cambodia president Sok Touch, in collaboration with the South Tonle Sap Fisheries Administration Inspectorate forces, has stepped up enforcement of fishing regulations and seized illegal fishing equipment in provinces surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake.
Touch said the officers from the inspectorate had observed fishermen using electrified nets to fish on March 1. The fishermen’s vessel had outrun the administration’s patrol boat and escaped. Fortunately, the tenacious officials did not give up the hunt.
“On the afternoon of March 2, we discovered the hiding place of the law-breaking fishing crew in Kampong Luong commune of Pursat province’s Krakor district. We confiscated boats and electrical fishing equipment,” he said.
Mith Soksopheak, chief of the inspectorate, said on March 8 that a working group is currently working around the clock with provincial armed forces and Touch to put an end to fishing offences in the region.
“Following the recommendation of Prime Minister [Hun Sen], we have cooperated with the armed forces and police in the province and raided several floating houses in Kampong Luong. Our raids led to the discovery of illegal fishing tools,” he said.
The confiscated evidence is currently being retained at the Fisheries Administration office in neighbouring Kampong Chhnang province while a legal case is prepared.
“Now that we have hard evidence, we are checking the background of the perpetrators. I have spoken with the Kampong Chhnang Provincial Court prosecutor to determine the most effective course of action,” he said.
Soksopheak said his team would continue their campaign against these crimes. On March 7, for example, they raided another house – although the suspects had fled.
“The team will not stop hunting for illegal fishing gear, and remains committed to our partnership with the South Tonle Sap inspectorate,” he said.
Krakor district police chief Liv Seng Him said he could not provide more information as he was on a mission in an area with no extensive network coverage.