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Sand dredging ships impounded in S'ville

Sand dredging ships impounded in S'ville

AUTHORITIES have impounded two Cambodian sand-dredging vessels off the

coast of Preah Sihanouk province, according to fisheries officials who

say the company operating the ships lacked the necessary permission.

Fisheries

Administration director Nao Thuok said that the company, whose name he

could not recall, operated legally in Koh Kong province, but that

authorities cracked down when it was found that it was dredging without

a licence off Sihanoukville.

"The company ... came to Sihanoukville

to dredge, and [the ships] were confiscated," he said, adding that an

investigation into its activities was currently under way.

Doung Sam

Ath, director of the Preah Sihanouk Fisheries Administration, said that

the vessels were confiscated two weeks ago - and a local businessman

fined 6.5 million riels (US$1,577.28) - for dredging sand in Stung Hav

district without permission from the Ministry of Water Resources.

"We have already fined him and stopped him doing business until he obtains the proper legal documents," he said.

The

confiscation of the vessels comes amid increasing sand mining activity

along the Kingdom's coastline, raising concerns about the impacts of

dredging the sea bed.

Kev Wa, executive director of Environmental

Watch and Protection in Cambodia, a Koh Kong-based watchdog, said that

"millions of tonnes" of sand had been pulled out of the sea in recent

months, citing the possible impacts on "fish species, sea grass and

coral reefs".

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