The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has laid out a four-point plan to help sub-national authorities effectively investigate and prosecute natural resource crimes within their jurisdictions.
In a notice entitled “Measures to strengthen prevention and enforcement of forest, wildlife and fisheries crimes” issued last week, agriculture minister Veng Sakhon instructed sub-national administrations to step up investigations and action on natural resource crimes so that they do not become widespread.
He laid out the four-point plan and urged sub-national administrations to effectively implement it, as they are responsible for leading and coordinating with the various police forces across the Kingdom to preserve and protect natural resources.
They must prevent people from logging, burning, clearing or occupying forest land and flooded forest land. They have to take action to inspect timber stocks, and manage the circulation and processing of all kinds of timber products. They must also strictly enforce the nation’s fisheries laws.
“If they spot an offence being committed, they have to take action immediately, so that the offending does not become widespread and consequently harder to deal with.
“If an offence is complicated or being committed on a large scale, they should report it to – and seek immediate intervention from – the ministry and national-level institutions, so they
can resolve the case together, procedurally,” the notice said.
Kampong Thom provincial governor Nguon Ratanak told The Post that the provincial administration had set up a sub-committee tasked with inspecting, investigating and prosecuting forest, wildlife and fishery crimes and a team to spread the word about the new measures.
“At present, our team is continuing to gather statistics and data on people who use illegal fishing equipment. We have seized some equipment and are continuing to search for more offenders. We are building case files which will be referred to court,” he said.
He added that since Prime Minister Hun Sen gave the order to focus on fisheries crimes on March 23, his administration had led forces that had seized more than 3,000m of trawl nets and 6,000 wooden and bamboo fish traps, as well as more than 20 devices used to electrocute fish.
Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that although fishery crimes in the province are very low, the provincial administration continued to monitor the situation, particularly in Sangke and Ek Phnom districts.