Kampot Fishermen to Appeal To Hun Sen Over VN Trawlers

Fishermen in Kampot pro­vince, frustrated by authorities’ alleged inaction over their repeated claims of encroachment by Vietnamese trawlers, vowed yesterday to travel to the capital and present their case to Prime Min­ister Hun Sen.

Keo Math, a 62-year-old fisherman from Kampot town, said that about 300 fishermen planned to make the trip to Phnom Penh within two weeks if their complaints remain unanswered.

“Now we have no choice ex­cept coming…to ask Samdech Hun Sen for help. I don’t see any crackdown on illegal trawlers,” he said.

Last week, about 600 Kampot fish­ermen sent a petition to the premier, urging him to stop Viet­namese trawlers from illegally fishing in Cambodian waters. The prime minister’s Cabinet referred the petition to the Agri­culture Min­istry for review.

The petition claims the fishermen have lodged several complaints with provincial authorities since 2006, all to no avail.

Local fisherman Hath Karim, 37, said locals would not be able to catch enough to make a living if the government could not push the encroaching trawlers away from the shallow waters around Kampot.

He warned that more fishermen would be forced to migrate to other provinces for work if the situation continued.

Kampot provincial governor Khoy Khun Hour acknowledged yesterday that some Vietnamese fishing boats had been spotted plying Cambodia’s territorial waters but said none had ever been intercepted. However, Cam­bodian boats are also crossing the sea border to fish in Vietnam, he said.

“They are coming to our wa­ters and we are also fishing in their waters. So what can we do?” Mr Khun Hour said.

“We cannot crack down on [il­legal trawlers] with 100 percent suc­­cess,” he said, adding that authorities cannot conduct regular patrols because they do not have enough fuel.

The fishermen say they would object less if the Vietnamese boats used the same, small-scale fishing gear as their Cambodian counterparts. While local fishermen use 5- to 9-meter nets, Vietnamese trawl­ers can employ nets as long as 200 meters, said Mr Math, the Kampot fisherman.

 

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