The end of this year’s fishing season has been announced, with northern fisheries closed to commercial fishing from June 1 to September 30 and southern fisheries from July 1 to October 31.

The Chaktomuk River confluence – where the river meets the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Basaac in Phnom Penh – is considered the central point for determining the northern/southern divide.

An announcement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, seen by The Post on May 23, detailed the affected areas.

The freshwater fisheries in Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri, Kratie, Tbong Khmum, Kampong Cham and Kampong Thom provinces – as well as parts of Phnom Penh and Kandal province which are north of the Chaktomuk River – will be closed from June 1.

The southern parts of Phnom Penh and Kandal, along with Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Takeo and Kampong Speu provinces, will be closed from July.

“During the period of closure, fishermen may only employ ‘family fishing gear’, as stipulated in the ministry’s October 2012 prakas No 458,” said the notice.

The ministry has appealed to the public and fishermen alike to comply, saying fisheries resources need to be preserved for future generations.

Heng Sophearith, director of the Fisheries Administration’s (FiA) Kandal provincial cantonment, said on May 23 that his jurisdiction included two northern districts – Mok Kampoul and Ponhea Leu – while Khsach Kandal, Loeuk Dek and Koh Thom districts are in the south.

He explained that the closure does not constitute a total ban on fishing, but that commercial fishing equipment such as trawl or drift nets and stationary trawl – known locally as “dai” – could not be employed.

“During this period, fishermen may use family fishing gear like fishing lines and hand cast nets,” he added.

He said that in order to enforce the restrictions, fisheries officials, in cooperation with the police and the armed forces, would be monitoring fishermen. They would also enforce a total ban on fishing in the area’s five conservation areas and 12 protected breeding pools.

“At this time, fisheries crimes appear to be on the decline, largely thanks to a comprehensive education programme by local authorities. Electrocution activities are harder to track, but we have many methods at our disposal to curb this kind of offence,” he said.

Mok Ponlok, director of the FiA’s Kratie provincial cantonment, said he would share the date of the upcoming closure with the villages and communes within his jurisdiction.

“Fisheries officials will also erect notices at several locations that will explain that commercial fishing equipment is banned from June 1,” he added.