Dry Rainy Season Blamed for Small Fish Hauls

Light precipitation during this year’s rainy season is to blame for the poor hauls fisherman have seen so far this year, fisheries officials said Monday.

Nao Thuok, director of the De­partment of Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Monday that since flooding was not as widespread as normal, fish populations were denied much of the feeding and breeding grounds they typically enjoy this time of year.

He said only about 1,000 tons of fish have been caught so far this year by the government-run Dai fisheries, compared to the 7,000 tons harvested by this time in 2003.

The Dai fisheries in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district provide many of the country’s landlocked villagers with fish that will sustain them through the often lean rainy season.

Nao Thuok said that, despite a Council of Ministers directive that banned illegal fishing methods last September, the use of battery-powered electrocution and finely woven nets, which allow little to escape, are still damaging the fish population.

He said fisheries officials confiscated and collected about 1 million meters of the illegal nets and about 10,000 batteries from fishermen in 2003.

But Mak Sithirith, director of the Fisheries Action Coalition Team, said illegal fishing is on the rise due to poor management and law enforcement.

He said fishermen could prevent the illegal practices better on their own, but the law forces them to file reports with authorities who may or may not act.

Nao Thuok denied that local fisheries officials are accepting bribes to allow illegal fishing to continue. He said about 20 officials were fired in 2002 on suspicion of such corruption.


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