Two men have been placed in pre-trial detention for “fishing using electric shock devices” in a Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin conservation zone in Kratie province.
A 104kg, 1.98m male dolphin was found dead in the same preservation area on Sunday after its flipper became entangled in a fishing net.
Kratie provincial Fisheries Administration deputy chief Mok Punlok told The Post on Thursday that two men from Stung Treng’s Siem Bok district, Seng Oeun, 29, and Thorn Piseth, 18, had been sent to the local court the previous day.
They were arrested on Tuesday in Kampong Kboeung village in Sambor district after a patrol by river wardens and local fishermen found them fishing with an electric shock device.
Police confiscated a homemade device consisting of a car battery, wires and a bamboo pole. A 5.9m motorised boat was also seized.
Punlok said the two suspects were sent to prison by Kratie provincial court on Wednesday for “fishing using electric shock devices” in the Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin conservation area.
They were arrested under Article 98 of the Law on Fisheries. According to the Article, the men face three to five years in prison.
“The two suspects have been placed in pre-trial detention at the Kratie provincial prison awaiting a court date,” Punlok said.
Hul Soeung, Boeung Char commune chief, told The Post on Thursday that the men’s illegal fishing practices may have been responsible for the death of the male Irrawaddy dolphin found dead in the conservation zone on Sunday.
Soeung said all of Boeung Char commune’ fishermen understood the importance of the Irrawaddy dolphin. They patrolled the area every three days with local village guards and river wardens to prevent illegal fishing that puts the endangered mammals at risk.
“Most of the illegal fishing in the Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin conservation zone is done by people living upstream and downstream of the preservation area,” he said.
WWF-Cambodia said Irrawaddy dolphins were part of Cambodia’s valuable living heritage and urged an end to all illegal fishing activities in their conservation zones.
“The use of fishing nets in preservation areas is among the main factors in the deaths of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River, ” WWF-Cambodia said.