A weekend crackdown on illegal fishing tactics saw military police net 57 fishermen, 16 boats and an array of banned equipment over the course of a two-day raid by authorities in Siem Reap province.
The two-pronged raid took place in Siem Reap town’s Chung Khnies commune and the Kampong Khlaing commune in Sotr Nikum district, said Colonel Srey Yura, who spearheaded the operation in Chung Khnies.
Police said those arrested lived mostly in the floating villages on the Tonle Sap.
“We would like to stop people from fishing illegally in protected parts of the Tonle Sap lake, and we will continue to crackdown on illegal fishing activity,” Yura said.
Four people originally arrested were later released after it was found that they were only commuters on the boat and had not taken part in the crime, said provincial court prosecutor Oy Somphear.
Prime Minister Hun Sen declared a ban on commercial fishing on the Tonle Sap in March of last year, expanding the injunction a week later to include four provinces along the Mekong River: Kandal, Kampong Cham, Takeo and Prey Veng.
Heng Sarin, a project officer from the Fisheries Action Coalition Team, said yesterday that the ban was in place because “the government knows that fish stocks are declining” and hopes to give them time to recover, but fishing with “family equipment” – like fishing rods – is still allowed, he added.
To contact the reporter on this story: Thik Kaliyann at [email protected]
With assistance from Danson Cheong