Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Inspections carried out in fishery deaths

Inspections carried out in fishery deaths

Fish farmer Pheam Yousef, 38, explains how half his approximately 4,000 fish died, allegedly from wastewater polluting the Bassac River.
Fish farmer Pheam Yousef, 38, explains how half his approximately 4,000 fish died, allegedly from wastewater polluting the Bassac River. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Inspections carried out in fishery deaths

Since early March, the water of the Bassac River in Kandal’s Sa’ang district has been turning black for days at a time, residents say, decimating local fish farms and leading to an inspection of three nearby factories on Wednesday by local authorities.

“The water would turn black and the fish would die,” said Tiet Saly, 38, a fish farmer in the predominantly Cham village of Boren Krom in Svay Brateal commune.

Saly began the season with 2,500 fish in his cages. At first, just a few died or grew ill, when they stopped eating and growing. But as more died – at one point 50 or 60 at once – he decided to cut his losses months before the usual selling period in July.

“I sold off the rest of my fish, but some families lost hundreds of fish,” he said.

Pheam Yousef, 38, was one of the less fortunate of the 20 or so fish farming families in the village.

Of his stock of 4,000 local catfish and Spanish tilapia, he lost about half, with deaths spiking last week, at which point villagers voiced their grievances with local authorities.

District Governor Nhem Vandin said that fisheries officials and commune authorities carried out inspections on Wednesday morning, but he has yet to receive a report on their findings.

Kan Penh, the district Fisheries Administration chief, said all five points where wastewater was flowing into the river were inspected. It was found that local communal drainage pipes were being used by three factories as well as local villagers, with untreated wastewater going into the river.

“For the factories we ordered them to change their sewage discharge and they promised to correct the problem,” he said.

Officials declined to name the factories in question but The Post identified one as the Taiwanese-owned He Gia Yuan Co Ltd garment factory. A representative hung up on reporters on Wednesday.

In Sitbou commune, across the river, commune authorities say that storm drainage pipes had been “pirated” by local residents, who connected their sewage to them, according to Commune Chief Um Leng.

“I call upon people to make septic tanks, and when they are full, call the sewage trucks to pump it out,” he said. “People need to change their behaviour. I don’t think they understand about the polluted environment.”

Yousef and the other families affected are hopeful the inspection will curb the pollution and possibly secure compensation for farmers.

“I lost 4 million riel [about $1,000] of fish . . . I hope it will be better and the factories keep their promise,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro