K ompong Chhnang-The formation of a specialist crime suppression team has successfully clamped down on illegal fishing being conducted after the end of the commercial season, according to the deputy chief of the Provincial Fishery Department .
Khov Buon said the Committee to Prevent and Combat Illegal Fishing (CPCIF) had eradicated 70 percent of the illegal fishing in the province and made 12 arrests since its formation in May this year.
The CPCIF is made up of police, military, Fishery Department personnel, and the provincial vice governor, and has worked together with three other permanent illegal fishing suppression units and a mobile team to combat illegal fishing, according to Buon.
But the deputy chief complained that there were armed men in the province who gave protection to people currently engaging in commercial fishing-which is illegal from July to September each year. (Fishing on a small scale at the family level to support life remains legal thoughout the year, according to Boun.)
The deputy chief added that Khmer Rouge soldiers protected people illegally fishing in the remote areas of the province, and in return the fishermen gave at least half their profits to the KR in gold.
He said these two problems made it very difficult to completely stop illegal fishing in the province.
Buon said of the 12 people arrested eight were Vietnamese, and they were charged with offenses including commercially fishing at the end of the season, using illegal equipment such as batteries to electrocute the fish, and especially catching young slimy Pra fish which are taken to Vietnam for raising.
He said the arrested people, who could have been jailed for between three months and three years for the offenses, will be kept in custody for six months to warn them to stop their activities.
He added that their 20 fishing boats, nets and tools had been confiscated and sold for over 10 million riel, with the money belonging to the government; and the young fish had been released back into the lake.
The deputy chief said that upto 25 percent of the province's population of 300,000 were fishermen, and 30 percent of the fishermen were Vietnamese.
Buon says that during the last season some 12,000 tonnes of fish were caught in the province.