On the commemoration of National Fish Day, Neth Pheaktra, spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, urged Cambodians, particularly fishermen, to actively uphold laws safeguarding the nation’s endangered aquatic species.

At a time when fishing is prohibited to protect spawning fish, he called for a collective stand against unlawful practices that could harm these vulnerable populations.

Pheaktra conversed with The Post on July 4, delving into the concerted efforts of various organisations and government sectors, namely, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Ministry of Environment, to conserve and replenish these precious fish populations.

Releasing rare species into the Mekong River has been an integral part of their strategy, ensuring the preservation of these fish while allowing them to breed and contribute to sustainable biodiversity.

“Historically, we’ve released rare species like the giant barb and Mekong giant catfish, which then repopulate and bring forth more juvenile fish,” he said. “This regenerates the natural fish environment.”

“I implore our people to contribute to the care and conservation of flooded forests, the habitats these fish spawn in. To those who consume fish, please abstain from buying rare species. Let us all partake in preserving fish for our survival and that of future generations,” he emphasised.

Mak Sothearith, a researcher at the World Fish Centre, expressed his concern over the precarious balance between fish consumption and resource conservation. He emphasised the crucial role fish play in human sustenance, particularly for Cambodians, whose fondness for fish is paralleled by an alarming depletion of the resource.

“Our fish resources appear to be waning, likely a consequence of limited awareness among citizens, both as fishermen and consumers,” he said. “We must persist in our collective effort to protect natural rivers, streams, and lakes, preserve flooded forests, and refrain from fishing during the closed season”.

Sothearith acknowledged the significant groundwork laid by government officials, but asserted the necessity of fisherman’s cooperation to bring about effective and efficient results.