Fishermen living in the northern provinces along the Chaktomuk River – including parts of the capital and neighbouring Kandal province – have resumed fishing after it was suspended from June 1 to September 30.
However, according to Fisheries Administration (FiA) spokesman Ung Try, the use of destructive fishing equipment and techniques that are not included in the annex to the fisheries law, such as electrocution, are still prohibited and considered to be criminal activity.
Try told The Post that the Commission for Monitoring, Investigation and Suppression of Fishing Offences, which consists of relevant ministries and institutions, has managed to reduce the rate of fishing offences significantly, especially in the area around the Tonle Sap Lake.
“From March 23 to the end of September 2022, our authorities have cracked down on and confiscated illegal fishing equipment around the Tonle Sap Lake, including 40 fishing nets, 1,300 electric shock devices, 21 fish traps, 17 seine nets, 111 motor boats, 48 trawlers and much more.
“In addition to confiscating this criminal evidence, our police forces have arrested and sent 52 suspects to court, 26 of them have been charged and detained. Summonses have also been issued for 19 other suspects who are still at large,” he said.
According to Try, of the six provinces bordering the Tonle Sap Lake, Pursat had the most illegal fishing activity, followed by Siem Reap, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Thom.
The other two provinces, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey, seem to have less activity related to illegal fishing and police have seized evidence of minor offences only, he noted.
Try called on all fishermen, as well as local authorities, to continue to protect the fisheries resources of Cambodia and use them sustainably by cooperating and providing information about cases of fishing offences wherever they are taking place.
Sam Vichet, head of the FiA’s Stung Treng cantonment, told The Post that during this year’s off-season, his officers had collaborated with local authorities, river guards and fishing communities to investigate fishing crimes, which led to significant confiscations of illegal equipment.
“Stung Treng provincial fisheries officials recently arrested three suspects and sent them to court in connection with fishing offences and the court has remanded them into custody,” he said.
Fishing was banned for inland freshwater located in the provinces of Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Ratanakiri; Mondulkiri, Kratie, Tbong Khmum, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom and parts of Phnom Penh and Kandal provinces for four months from June 1 to September 30.
In Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Takeo, Kampong Speu and the rest of Kandal province and Phnom Penh south of the Chaktomuk River, the off-season when fishing is not permitted lasts from July 1 to October 31.
Overall, fishing offences are reported to be more prevalent in the provinces bordering Vietnam such as Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Kandal and Takeo, with most of the offenders being Vietnamese.
Hem Sarith, the governor of Svay Chrum district in Svay Rieng province, told The Post that on October 4, he led the Svay Chrum district administration on a patrol near Prek Niel in Bayap village of Bassac commune, which borders Kampong Ror district and Vietnam.
He said officers seized a fishing boat, noting that the offenders tried to escape by driving their motorboat into Vietnamese waters.
“We have met with the Vietnamese police at the border to discuss solutions for this problem, and we’ve requested that the Vietnamese side not allow its citizens to cross the water border illegally into Bassac commune. The Vietnamese police agreed to cooperate,” he said.
According to Sarith, evidence of criminal activity that was confiscated included the fishing boat and a pair of fish shockers now being kept at the Bassac Commune Administrative Police Station.