Authorities in the six provinces around the Tonle Sap Lake have put in place measures to strengthen searches and crackdowns on illegal fishing over the Khmer New Year holiday, a provincial official has said.
In order to prevent illegal fishing in flooded forest areas and on the Tonle Sap Lake, the Siem Reap provincial Sub-Committee on Fisheries Crimes had laid out a number of measures to prevent people from illicitly fishing during the holiday, said Tea Kim Soth, director of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Siem Reap province. The main measures his department would be taking during this period include conducting educational campaigns, disseminating laws to locals, and searching for evidence of fisheries crimes in the lake area.
“We have so far observed that during major national festivals, especially Khmer New Year, some people with nefarious intent had often fished secretly. So, this year, our team has laid out some necessary measures to strengthen the work of preventing and searching for fisheries crimes during Khmer New Year,” he said.
Eleven headquarters have been set up in Siem Reap province for authorities to deploy staff involved with crackdowns on fisheries crimes, one of which is the "light" headquarters established by the Joint National Commission (JNC), consisting of 15 forces on standby made up of staff from the Ministry of Environment, the Fisheries Administration, the armed forces and the Siem Reap Provincial Administration. The 10 other floating headquarters belong to district Fisheries Administration cantonments and consist of three to five members each, alongside members of intervention units.
In Battambang, provincial Fisheries Administration director Chuong Sophea said the Provincial Sub-Committee on Fisheries Crimes had been distributing food, equipment and fuel to the working group from April 13 to strengthen the search and crackdown operations commencing over the Khmer New Year period, and that it will continue to do so in a campaign that is scheduled to run throughout the week.
This campaign was divided into two groups, he said, one of which was tasked with educating local communities and the other assigned with patrolling the flooded forest areas and the Tonle Sap Lake.
Battambang province is home to one floating "light" headquarters and four sub-headquarters, located in Koh Chivaing commune of Ek Phnom district. The province also contains headquarters and sub-headquarters in the flooded forest areas and in the Mother Fish Conservation Area in Sangke, Moung Russey, Thma Koul and Ek Phnom districts.
Pursat provincial governor Cheav Tay observed that “most” crimes had happened during major national festivals, including that which pertains to illegal fishing.
He opined that necessary measures had to be taken and prepared for to prevent such crimes from occuring – especially the arrangement of security and public order – for the wellbeing of locals.
“We know that perpetrators often take the opportunity … of this important national holiday to commit crimes. Therefore, we must strengthen controls and protection as much as possible and must crack down on all crimes, especially fishing crimes in the Tonle Sap Lake. We must do this regularly so that our national fish resources will become plentiful again,” he said.
He added that his office had laid out some measures this Khmer New Year to strengthen safety and security at resorts across the province.
He said he had instructed members of the fisheries crimes subcommittee in the province to step up patrols around the Tonle Sap Lake.