Members of relevant ministries and institutions gathered on Friday and Saturday to discuss the importance of the Mekong to Cambodia from a policy standpoint and how the government can best work together to ensure the conservation of the river.
The two-day meeting, held under the theme Wonders of the Mekong Programme, was attended by officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Environment; Mines and Energy; Tourism; Education, Youth and Sport; and Water Resources and Meteorology.
Representatives from the Cambodia National Mekong Committee, the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority and other national and international organisations were also present.
Eng Cheasan, the director of the Fisheries Administration and chair of the discussion, said that the Mekong and Tonle Sap river systems was embedded into the culture of Cambodian people and their livelihoods from ancient times, as was shown in carvings at Angkor Wat.
“The government of Cambodia and skilled institutions have a role in studying and developing the Mekong River. This includes research studies and freshwater fishery conservation, with the Fisheries Administration working with relevant ministries and institutions to monitor and improve the status of the Mekong’s freshwater biodiversity.
“The Mekong River influences the landscape of Cambodian policy, including the conservation and management of natural resources, the development of the energy and tourism [sectors], and the creation of many other job opportunities.
“So the aim is to bring together government officials from all sectors to create a joint policy for the Mekong River, and to determine strategic methods that we can work on together to achieve a sustainable Mekong that can aid in Cambodia’s progress,” Cheasan said.
Cheasan added that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has policy on the management and conservation of the Mekong’s fish biodiversity, as well as the development of aquaculture.
He continued that the corridors of the Mekong, Sekong and Tonle Sap rivers were important for fish migration, including that of endangered species.
“We monitor the fish species that migrate in the Tonle Sap and collect eggs from fish spawning along the Mekong River. We have made plans on improving the monitoring of young fish migration in protected areas,” Cheasan said.
Deputy secretary-general of the Cambodia National Mekong Committee Kol Vathana said the committee’s policies were aimed at managing and conserving the resources of the Mekong River Basin.
“We manage the Mekong River Basin with regard to its sustainable use, development and conservation. The development of the Mekong River Basin must also respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its member countries,” he said.
Erin Loury, communications director at FISHBIO, a fisheries and environmental consulting company, said: “Through this discussion, we want to find joint policy from specialists [and] relevant parties to preserve the wonders of the Mekong River.
“We will seek to understand policy for the Mekong River that various relevant parties have been working on and find out what needs to be worked on further,” she said.