Opposition lawmakers Monday praised the government for its recent decision to cancel a four-year fishing contract with a commercial fisherman. The contract was widely criticized last week for being awarded without first going to bid.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Sam Sundoeun told the National Assembly that the contract awarded to fisherman Chhin Kheang in Kandal province was granted “without transparent channels.”
“[I] would like to whole-heartedly praise the government for its good works so far, including the suspension of fishing activities,” he said.
The contract was the only four-year license to be granted to harvest catfish fingerlings. Fishing for the fingerlings had been banned since 1994, but the ban was lifted on June 6.
Nao Thuork, director of the Fisheries Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said that the ministry terminated the agreement on June 24 citing breach of contract.
Nao Thuork said that Chhin Kheang illegally sold more than half of his 21 licensed fishing grounds—which follow the Mekong River downstream from Neak Leung to the Vietnamese border—to other commercial fishermen.
Chhin Kheang could not be reached for comment.
Nao Thuork said there will be no fishing for the fingerlings this year, but that contracts will be granted in the future, and that bidding will commence next year.