A new marine protected area has been established off the coast of Kep province to protect biodiversity and prevent illegal fishing, officials said on Sunday.
A directive by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries officially established the marine fisheries management area, which spans more than 11,000 hectares, on April 12.
Ouk Vibol, director of the Fisheries Conservation Department, said fishermen are required to operate in waters at least 20 metres deep in order to protect coral reef and seagrass, a rule violated “almost every day”.
“The problem is destroying our fishery resources,” he said.
The protected area will allow small-scale fishing in order to preserve sustainable fisheries for future generations.
The establishment of the protected area is part of the Mangroves for the Future initiative, said Vanny Lou, the Cambodia coordinator for the initiative, which is designed to promote investment in coastal conservation.
Cambodia joined the initiative in 2013.
Other organisations, such as Marine Conservation of Cambodia, have been involved in the process as well.
The protected area is divided into four zones, with one reserved for scientific research and eco-tourism.
“This is a very important area that we have to protect for biodiversity,” Lou said.
The next step is drafting a five-year management plan and demarcating the area, which officials began to do this month, Vibol said. It is expected to be completed in the next three months.
The government has a budget to develop the management plan, and for monitoring and patrolling, but it will need more investment to implement and enforce it.
“There’s a big challenge, actually, for funding. That’s why we need people around us to support,” he said.