The Siem Reap provincial authority, in collaboration with the Fisheries Administration’s (FiA) provincial cantonment, has initiated a campaign to inspect and address crimes in all fishing territories along Tonle Sap Lake. The campaign aims to educate fishermen about the prohibition of illegal fishing gear.

The initiative was implemented under the guidance of deputy provincial governor Ung Kim Leang, who led various joint working groups on January 22.

The operation involved the confiscation and destruction of unlawful fishing equipment, including eight snare heads and nets measuring 1,600 metres in length, which exceeded legal limits. 

400 poles were also seized and 20kg of fish were released back into the lake, as reported by the provincial administration on its social media page on January 23.

Kim Leang emphasised the need for continuous vigilance and cooperation among fishery leaders, officials at all levels and local authorities to regularly inspect and prevent crimes. 

He highlighted the importance of monitoring the demographic and geographical aspects of fisheries by gathering data on local fishermen and creating detailed maps for each location to effectively tackle offenses.

“The objective of the campaign is to educate our fishermen who have utilised illegal … gear, and to encourage their participation in preserving fish species and biodiversity, particularly in prohibited and conservation areas of Tonle Sap Lake, for future generations,” he explained.

Tea Kim Soth, director of the provincial agriculture department, noted on January 24 that commune authorities consistently work to inspect and combat fishing offenses on the lake. 

He elaborated that the campaign, led by the provincial authorities, commenced from Siem Reap’s Chong Khneas commune and extended to Kampong Phluk commune in the Prasat Bakong district. 

He said the efforts will continue in the Sotr Nikum district and culminate in the Chi Kraeng district. 

Kim Soth noted that commune authorities are also committed to regularly inspecting and addressing fishing crimes locally.

“The main aim of the mission is to educate the … community and discourage indiscriminate fishing. Without enforcement, fishermen might exceed our established limits, potentially leading to the loss of biodiversity in Tonle Sap Lake,” he stated.

The joint working groups noted that while electric fishing tools were not seen during the campaign, many fishermen resorted to illegal methods such as oversized nets, as per Kim Soth’s observations.