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Tonle Sap Lake fish electrocution costing gov’t ‘$10,000 per day’

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Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC) president Sok Touch visits the Tonle Sap Lake in Pursat and Kampong Chhnang provinces in November. RAC

Tonle Sap Lake fish electrocution costing gov’t ‘$10,000 per day’

President of the Royal Academy of Cambodia Sok Touch called on provincial authorities around the Tonle Sap Lake and the Fisheries Administration to strengthen patrols, investigation, prevention and crackdown on people using fish electrocution devices in the Tonle Sap Lake, because this crime costs the government $10,000 in income a night.

The call came on January 28 after he and his team arrived to inspect, investigate and prevent the encroachment on flooded forest land in areas around the Tonle Sap Lake and they found the illegal fishing occurring directly and received reports from local people about the crime of fish electrocution in the Tonle Sap Lake.

“This crime of fish electrocution costs the Royal Government $10,000 in income a night. So, the Fisheries Administration and the governors of each province around the Tonle Sap Lake have to prevent people from doing this,” he said.

In order to sustain the fishery resources in the Tonle Sap Lake for the benefit of the younger generations, Sok Touch was determined that he would see the arrest of those electrocuting fish in the Tonle Sap Lake to bring them to justice.

“I told you and I will follow this case. I would like to take my life as collateral to protect natural resources in the Tonle Sap Lake. I’m not afraid because I’m already determined that I must do it… I work for the cause of the nation and the people,” he added.

According to a previous survey, Sok Touch noticed that most of the electrocution of fish in the areas around the Tonle Sap Lake had happened at night between 6pm and 6am. Offenders used motorboats to pull fish catching devices to pull fish into their nets.

He also called on all residents in the Tonle Sap Lake areas to stop fishing with electrocution and other equipment banned by fisheries laws.

“I instruct those in the Tonle Sap Lake to stop electrocuting fish, it is not that I do not know,” he said.

As the Lunar New Year comes, he observed that the electrocuting of fish in the Tonle Sap Lake were silent because the offenders had taken a break for the New Year. However, he warned that he would take photos and post them publicly if he sees people electrocute fish in the Tonle Sap Lake again.

Long Sochet, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Fishermen, told The Post that his team will cooperate with all relevant authorities to crack down on fisheries crimes. The fishing crimes were happening everywhere, in particular, in the areas around the Tonle Sap Lake, most of the fishing crimes involving electrocution were by Vietnamese settlers, he claimed.

“According to the investigation by our team, the offending fishing activities of nets with machines or electrocution devices have in Chhnuk Trou area of Kampong Chhnang province, Reang Til area of Pursat province, Moat Khla area of Kampong Thom province and Chong Khneas area of Siem Reap province,” he said.

He added that the nets were used to catch big and small fish, shrimp and pacific geoduck. Fish that survived the electrocution cannot reproduce and cannot become big as normal fish either, he said.

Kampong Thom provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Pen Vannarith told The Post that fisheries officials were very busy cracking down on fisheries crimes but it is not the role of the officials alone, it involves all parties, especially local fishing communities.

“Our officials have worked hard to investigate and crack down forever. However, the crimes are never-ending. We crack down on them today in this place, the next day may happen in the same place or other places. So it requires the participation of all in preventing and cracking down like the rain,” he said.

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