The government lifted a ban last month on harvesting surf clams, but will continue to limit the types of fishing equipment and the size of boat engines permitted in the Gulf of Thailand, said Nao Thuok, director of the fisheries department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
He said the government will insist that fishermen use small fishing equipment and small boats to prevent practices detrimental to the marine environment.
Last December, prompted by an increasing number of commercial fishermen encroaching on shallow coastal waters reserved for small fishermen who depend on those waters to support their families, the government took action to halt the use of commercial fishing equipment along the gulf coast.
In the past, commercial fishermen used a steel shovel device to scoop up surf clams in shallow waters, officials said. The shovel swept up everything off the ocean floor. It has been banned, Nao Thuok said.
The number of commercial fishermen using this type of device has increased in the last two years. This has prompted small fishermen to struggle in an impoverished marine environment, officials said
Disputes have increased in recent years because commercial fishermen using modern equipment have encroached on shallow waters, where subsistence fishermen eke out a living.
The surf clams are in an area of approximately 30 square km near Koh Kong, Sihanoukville and Kampot.
However, fishermen can legally harvest them in just 12 square km near Kampot and Sihanoukville, Nao Thuok said.
Fishermen are prohibited from gathering surf clams during two spawning seasons, one during April and May and the other in October and November.