The Ministry of Public Works and Transport is encouraging the owners of cargo and fishing vessels with engine that produce more than 90 horsepower to register their ships and apply for business licences at their nearest provincial public works department.

Registration of the vessels is being conducted in order to enhance the safety and security of maritime transportation, as well as reduce pollution.

A December 20 notification by Mak Sideth, director-general of the General Department of Waterway and Maritime Transport and Ports, explained that the owners of ships with a cargo capacity of from 40 to 150 tonnes and fishing boats with from 90 to 250 horsepower can register their vessels at the public works departments of Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong, Kampot and Kep provinces.

“On behalf of the public works ministry, I assign the duty and responsibility of providing this public service to the public works departments of each of the coastal provinces. They should register, perform technical inspections and provide business licenses to the cargo ships and fishing boats of the people in each province,” it added.

In addition to registering and issuing business licenses, the provincial officials are also responsible managing, following up, monitoring and overseeing navigation activities in their respective provinces, it continued.

Ministry spokesman Phorn Rim explained that there are a total of 8,094 ships in Cambodia’s four coastal provinces, including cargo, passenger and fishing vessels. To date, 2,120 of them are registered.

“Registration is very important, as it will allow effective monitoring and control of ships and crews, as well as the monitoring of cargoes,” he said.

He added that registering the vessels will also improve the safety of shipping, reduce marine pollution and promote the development of the Cambodian maritime sector.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economic researcher Hong Vanak suggested that one goal of the system is to make it easier to control the number of Cambodian fishing boats in the Kingdom’s waters, as well as to distinguish them from foreign vessels which intend to fish in Cambodia’s seas. 

“I believe the purpose of this registration process is to ensure peace and security, as well as control the number and quantity of Cambodian fishing boats,” he said.

He added that once Cambodia has firm control of fishing vessels, it will be easier to set limits on catches and on the payment of taxes, which will contribute to a sustainable society.

Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche noted that the provincial administration has also campaigned for fishermen to register their vessels, and offered a 50 per cent discount on service fees as of early December. More than 800 of the province’s 2,000 fishing boats have now been registered and inspected.

“Fishermen who come to register their boats and have them inspected will benefit. Their businesses will be registered, which means it will be easier to find markets for their catches. Their products can even be exported,” he said.