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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    2 July 2012

Cambodia’s PM, Hun Sen appeals to stop illegal fishing

02-July-2012

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed to the public yesterday to stop using illegal fishing gear and refrain from fishing in the closed season.

Speaking at a National Fish Day ceremony at Boeung Thom Reservoir in Rokar Khnor commune in central Cambodia, he also called for people to stop cutting down trees in flooded forest areas, where many freshwater fish species feed and spawn.

To further protect fishery resources, Hun Sen urged people to protect conservation zones and report illegal fishing while refraining from planting lotuses in water bodies with fish.

The prime minister also appealed to fishermen and farmers to avoid conflicts over water use in the dry season.

Hun Sen said his public appeals, which coincided with the beginning of three-month closed fishing season, were in light of his announcement abolishing fishing lots on March 8.

He described the move as the "final reform" of the contract fishing system introduced by the French in 1908 when King Sisowath signed three regulations governing the auctioning of fishing lots and taxes on fishing gear.

The prime minister noted that reforms launched 12 years ago had resulted in 56 per cent of Cambodia's freshwater fishing grounds being converted to household use. "But that was not enough," he said.

In a separate speech,  Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said family-scale fishing now covers 76.5 per cent of the country's freshwater fishery domain following the abolition of the lots. The remaining 23.5 per cent is for conservation.

Chan Sarun said Cambodia now has 516 community fisheries covering 156,000 households and 332,000 people. Of the total, he said, 447 community fisheries are in freshwater areas.

The minister also noted that Cambodia now has 61,000 households engaged in farming freshwater species such as silver barb, common carp, catfish, snakeskin gourami, climbing perch and giant freshwater prawns.

Aquaculture production was estimated at 72,000 tonnes last year, up from an estimated 60,000 tonnes in 2010, he said. During the same period, hatchery production grew from 111 million fingerlings to 130 million fingerlings.

The minister said Cambodia now has 280 hatcheries of which 267 are being run by villagers with technical support from the Fisheries Administration. In 2011, he said 350,  fisheries technicians and 15,000 farmers received training in growing techniques.

Although Chan Sarun did not disclose estimates for last year's catch, the Fisheries Administration and the Mekong River Commission have partial estimates for the dai fishery on the Tonle Sap River north of Phnom Penh.

These show the catch reaching a record 46,007 tonnes in the 2011-12 season, which runs from October to March. That compares with only 6,211 tonnes a year earlier and is the highest figure recorded since monitoring began 17 years ago.

Hun Sen said in March that the abolition of fishing lots was not being extended to the dai fishery, an industrial-sized operation mainly targetting mud carp (trey riel) which are used to make fermented fish paste.


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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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