On the orders of Prime Minister Hun Sen, provincial authorities in the provinces around the Tonle Sap Lake have made more than 10 arrests during an operation focussed on enforcing fishing laws. The campaign is intended to improve national fresh water fish resources, the Tonle Sap authority said on March 27.
Phum Vimol, director of the Pursat provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told The Post that enforcing fishing crimes and offences related to the clearing of flooded forest areas were core tasks for his team – in addition to the dissemination of laws and the provision of training to fishing communities related to cultivation and animal husbandry.
“Recently, officers arrested nine fishermen who used trawl nets which were attached to electrocution devices. The offenders were members of a floating village community. Officers have also arrested three people who cleared flooded forest land,” he said.
Vimol added that the offenders were currently being held in the provincial prison on charges of using electrocution devices and deforestation in Zone 3 of the Tonle Sap Lake.
Ngin Hun, director of the Kampong Chhnang Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told The Post that his team had arrested two men who had used illegal fishing equipment. The two were sent to court on March 26.
His team was also investigating the case of thousands of metres of bamboo barricades used to catch fish along tributaries of the lake, which prevented fish movement and navigation.
“In Kampong Chhnang province, most fishing offences occur in Boribor and Kampong Leng districts as there are a lot of people living in floating houses and in remote areas. Our forces are using patrol boats to monitor illegal fishing in Kampong Leng district,” he said.
Kampong Thom provincial governor Nguon Ratanak told The Post that he and several consultants were currently setting up a provincial-level fisheries commission tasked with investigating and shutting down all fishing offenses under their jurisdiction. The commission would take swift action to protect the freshwater fishery resources of the lake.
Ratanak added that last week he, relevant ministers and representatives from the provinces around the lake had attended a second inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon.
The meeting had agreed to establish permanent national-level headquarters at two locations on the Tonle Sap Lake, to monitor illegal fishing activities and intervene as necessary.