Fisheries officials are searching for a poacher in Preah Sihanouk province who removed 1 ton of coral from coastal reefs and concealed it behind a pile of rocks on a beach walkway under the Snake Island bridge, an official said on Friday.
Villagers told Sihanoukville city authorities about the pile after finding it on Wednesday, leading governor Y Sokleng to ask the Fisheries Administration to confiscate the coral.
Officials returned the live coral to the sea and brought the remainder to City Hall for safekeeping, said Men Chamoeun, director of the local fisheries office.
Authorities are attempting to track down the poacher by talking to local souvenir shops that sell coral, he said.
Cambodia’s fisheries law bars the destruction of the coral ecosystem in an attempt to protect the region’s biodiversity and maintain an offshore tourist attraction, but Mr. Chamoeun said locals commonly scavenge dead coral to make souvenirs for visitors.
“The coral is not allowed to be removed from the sea because the coral attracts many tourists to dive,” he said.