Although authorities have tightened enforcement against fishery crimes in Tonle Sap Lake recently following orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen, authorities said some illegal activity was still taking place and the offenders were often very well-equipped.
On April 18, joint intervention forces at the national level stationed in the Kampong Phluk area of Siem Reap province’s Sotr Nikuk district had discovered large scale fishery crimes. They suspected that the offenders had secretly committed the crimes during the Khmer New Year celebrations.
An official at the district Fisheries Administration in northern Tonle Sap who asked not be named told The Post on April 19 that the national-level authorities went down to seize evidence of illegal fishing such as a 3,400m long fishing net and 2,700 poles along with other fishing tools. They also released 30kg of fish back into the lake.
He said that based on the materials seized, it was likely that the crooks spent up to ten thousand dollars to purchase and set-up their illegal fishing operation, which meant that the crimes are not being committed by ordinary people, rather something more akin to organised gangs are the culprits.
Pen Vannarith, director of the Kampong Thom provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told The Post that in the last two days the armed forces in charge of combating fishery crimes in the province had taken action in Peam Bang commune of Stong district and confiscated a large amount of fishing gear while releasing 13kg of fish back into the lake.
“The authorities stopped and educated 26 people who were fishing in the protected area of Boeng Tonle Chhmar. They were educated and signed a contract promising to stop committing the crime or else they will be sentenced according to the law,” he said.
He added that the authorities had also been educating other fishermen in the area to stop their illegal fishing activities and local traders were also told to stop buying the illegally sourced fish as well.