Government Extends Algal Bloom Warning for Kep

The government has extended its appeal to the public to avoid eating seafood or swimming in the water in Kep province through the weekend, despite finding no evidence of toxicity in their ongoing investigation into an abnormal algal bloom in waters off the coast.

The Environment Ministry issued a public health warning on Saturday after testing a sample of Kep’s seawater, which started turning bright green on Thursday, with swaths of dead fish and other marine life washing ashore.

In a statement released on Monday, the ministry said people should stay away from the water as officials continued investigating the phenomenon, which occurs annually but has been particularly severe this year.

“The local people and tourists should continue to suspend swimming until the end of this weekend in order to avoid potential health problems and to provide time for expert officials and local authorities to clean the bay,” the statement said.

The statement also said that fishermen should only collect their catch from areas more than 500 meters off the provincial coast.

Sao Sopheap, the ministry’s spokesman, said the algal bloom had already begun to subside. “Now, the situation is much better—almost back to normal.”

Kearth Hong, chief of the administrative bureau at the provincial health department, said there had been no cases of people falling ill due to the algae.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said tourism in Kep had not been particularly affected. “As far as I know, there has been no change in terms of tourism in Kep, because Kep is a destination for eating rather than swimming—unlike Kampot—but we have updated our advice to tourists in terms of eating,” Mr. Eang said.

(Additional reporting by Ouch Sony)

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