The Kampot Provincial Administration has decided to set up a commission for the suppression of fisheries offences.
Provincial hall spokesman Vit Vathana told The Post on May 19 that the commission will carry out measures such as spreading the word about restricted conservation areas, educating fishing communities and getting them to agree to follow the measures or face prosecution for failing to do so.
“We will carry out this work both in the sea and freshwater areas. Although Kampot province has less freshwater, there are fishermen using electric shock devices in lakes in some districts there,” Vathana said.
Kampot provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Chan Rithy said the setup of the commission was to strengthen efficiency in suppressing fisheries offences.
The commission will also assist the provincial department as currently there are only 10 officials assigned to tackle fishery offences.
Vathana said he hoped that they will strengthen cooperation with the Navy and Marine to curb fishing offences, especially in the white zone near Koh Trol Island.
"Our Cham people have often fished in this area, where Vietnamese people also like to fish," he said, referring to the predominantly-Muslim ethnic minority group.
"They always have disputes in this area and with this new commission, we should be able to solve them."
Vathana said that in the first three months of this year hundreds of fishing offences had been prevented or suppressed.
Neak Sen, the head of a fishing community in Kampong Bay district’s Troeuy Koh commune, said fishing offences persisted in the province because there were not many officers assigned to stop the offences, especially electric shock cases.
He said the authorities have cracked down on some cases but often released offenders without fining or punishing them. This, he said, encouraged them to repeat their offences.
“The provincial authorities should go down to ask fishermen in person to see if there are any offences and how hard it is to prevent them. “Previously, fishermen here could generate 50,000 riel in income a day from fishing. But now, they cannot make even 20,000 riel because there are a lot of illegal fishermen,” he said.