Cambodia – Illegal fishing puts marine life at risk in Kampong Pluk village

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Location: Tnoat Kambot village, Kampong Pluk commune, Prasat Bakong district, Siem Reap province

Language: Cambodian

Duration: 00:06:40

Source: A24

Restrictions: A24 Subscribers

Dateline: 31-03-2022

Storyline:

The villagers of the Kampong Phluk village have been suffering from illegal fishing at the Tonle Sap Lake, as the usage of illegal electric equipment is leaving a heavy toll on the fish in the lake. The decreasing water level of the Mekong River that feeds into the river has added insult to injury. Villagers have felt the impact of this, as their daily income from fishing has declined, forcing many to change their occupation and focus on tourism, as many have started transporting tourists on the boat on the flooded forest in the Tonle Sap Lake to make a living. Despite the change in livelihood, the villagers of Kampong Phluk still have problems and cannot earn a decent income. Meanwhile, from year to year, dozens of hectares of flooded forest are cut down and burned by villagers in the dry season to turn into agricultural land. Vann Pual, who is a local chieftain, said the most prominent issue facing fishing is illegal fishing, adding that if this was addressed, the fish numbers would increase.

Shotlist:

 (Soundbite) Mr. Sok Plong, the chief of Kampong Pluk, floating village:

“Normally, the water level of the Tonle Sap Lake rises in June. It is supposed to be in June. Now, it happens in August or September. The month in which the fish spawn is inaccessible to the spawning grounds. Eggs laid in the river would be eaten by other fish. Illegal fishing problems such as electric fishing heavily impact the fish, which often sneaks in at night. The fishing net that most of the local fishers put on at night would have left their materials in the water all night until they got back to check on them in the morning. The illegal fishing made serious destruction of fishermen’s property.”

 (Soundbite) Mr. Soun Chan Serey, a Tourist transporter and owner of floating restaurants

“The shift from fishing to transporting tourists happened because fishing has been impacted. Fishers used to through 10 to 20 fishing nets into the water and collect a lot of fish, but now you could use double the nets and catch less fish. Fishing off the Tonle Sap Lake is pretty much lost because there are about 7 to 8 species of fish left today. There were 200 to 300 species of fish; now there are only 7 to 8 species of fish left.”

(Soundbite) Mr. Sok Plong, the chief of the Kampong Pluk, floating village

“Only 10 fish were caught by people; it is a lot. So far, 10 people have caught 6 fish. This fact impacts their lives.”

 (Soundbite) Mr. Ouk Saran Neang, a local fisherman

“A few years ago, we were able to catch an average of 10 to 20 kilograms of fish. Nevertheless, the fish are getting less and less. The average income per day is around 30,000 riels [$7.4].”

(Soundbite) Mrs. Nang Dany, a local fisher

“Can’t fish much. I want to emphasize that we fish during the fishing season, but still, we would not find fish. I do not know why, but I know that I went fishing but not there would not be a lot of fish out there.”

 (Soundbite) Mr. Vann Pual, the chief of Tnout Kambot.

“They used to fish, even though there is a shortage of fishes, they continued to fish. But I do believe that if we can get rid of illegal equipment like the Vietnamese dragging trap called Yang Kao, electric fishing and trickle. I believe that in three years, the fish will be abundant. The second is the flooded forest factor, which we do not allow people to farm in the third zone, prevented area, to let the forest of fishes’ spawn to grow again.”

 (Soundbite) Mr. Mathieu Pare, a French tourist:

“This is the kind of subject that should be at the center of dialogue between countries; how to save this place because it is very important to keep a good ecosystem balance. The world is developing, so we have to manage; this is quite normal, but you have to save this kind of place, especially if they are unique to a country or continent. The challenge is to have a balance between what we should do and what we can save.”           

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