Officials from the Kratie provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have given six ethnic Vietnamese families one month to remove their floating houses from the Kampi Dolphin Conservation Area in Russey Char village of Chitr Borei district’s Thma Krae commune.

The families have signed contracts agreeing to the February 28 deadline. By February 28, if they refuse to do so, the officials will implement the law without exception.

Mok Ponlok, director of the Fisheries Administration’s (FiA) Kratie cantonment, told The Post on January 30 that FiA officials – in cooperation with commune authorities and police – summoned the heads of the six families to a January 28 meeting, during which impact of their homes on dolphin conservation was explained.

“If they fail to meet the deadline, legal action will ensue. The decision to act followed advice from Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina,” he added.

A letter signed by Srun Teang An, 28, one of the inhabitants of the floating homes, said his family agreed to remove their house and fish farming cage.

“I promise to dismantle my floating home the fish farming equipment I use in the dolphin protection area. If I fail to meet the deadline, I understand that the FiA, agriculture department and the police will take action,” the letter read.

On January 25, minister Tina visited Kratie where he met with fisheries officials and river guards. There they gained a better understanding of the conservation of Mekong River dolphins in the main patrolled areas of Prek Kampi and its surrounds.

During his visit, the minister suggested that the FiA continue to educate the public while banning all fishing activities in the areas where dolphins thrive.

“The agriculture ministry will try to link fishermen with development agencies that train them in other professions,” he said.

Tina also called for increased law enforcement, and the prosecution of repeat offenders. He donated some much-needed equipment to the fisheries officials and river guards, including high-quality spotlights, night-vision devices, high-powered outboard motors and extra fuel.