The Fisheries Administration yesterday questioned the accuracy of a Ministry of Water Resources report documenting the number of illegal fishing traps in the Tonle Sap basin.
“There are no fish traps across the river,” said Fisheries Administration director Nao Thuok. “I acknowledge there are illegal fishing traps, but they are on a small scale.”
Last week, the Ministry of Water Resources revealed at a news conference that it had uncovered illegal traps in 143 areas of rivers and streams flowing into the Tonle Sap, citing a year-long study by the Tonle Sap Authority.
Mr Thuok said he did not know how the Ministry of Water Resources and Tonle Sap Authority had recorded the traps, although he acknowledged traps in Tonle Sap fishing lots.
“There are fishing traps in the fishing lots, but they are within the fishing lot’s regulation. [The Ministry of Water Resources] probably included these cases in the report,” he said.
However, Mr Thuok said his officials have begun to implement a directive by Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on May 22 to eliminate illegal fish traps in the eight provinces that hold the Tonle Sap basin. The directive gives owners two weeks to remove traps before the government takes action.
Mr Thuok said officials had warned trap owners before the directive was issued. “The fishery officials of all the provinces around the Tonle Sap river went down to implement [the directive] and advise the fishermen,” he said. “We will remove all [traps] before the deadline comes.”
Chan Youtha, secretary-general of the Tonle Sap Authority, said provincial authorities were working to implement the new rules. “I would like to confirm [the directive] would completely destroy all the equipment used to block the water,” he said.
On Friday, the Fishery Administration issued a notice about the start of this year’s commercial fresh water fishing ban, which will last from June 1 until Aug 30.
“During the fishing ban, all kinds of fishing are banned, except family fishing that uses family fishing equipment. Illegal fishing traps have to be removed before May 31,” the notice stated.