PM Ends Fishing Net Tax to Stop Violence

Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the Department of Fish­eries to stop taxing fishing equipment in an attempt to im­prove the livelihoods of those who fish for survival.

The move is the latest in a series of decisions made by the premier to end increasingly violent incidents in Cambodia’s lucrative fishing grounds. Nearly 100 outbreaks of violence over fishing lots, including some fatalities, were reported last year.

“It is very good that the tax of fishing equipment is exempted because this could assuage the difficulty of the people’s livelihood,” said An Thud, director of the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture.

In the past, 100 meters of fishing net was taxed about $15, but corrupt officials charged upwards of $25 per net, Hun Sen said Tues­day in an address broadcast on Bayou Radio.

To eliminate corruption, Hun Sen said he ordered department officials to stop levying a charge for fishing tools completely.

Hun Sen also touted his policy of handing fishing lots over to the public instead of offering them only to private bidders. Con­fronting complaints that not enough area was set aside for people dependent on subsistence fishing, Hun Sen late last year ordered a restructuring of Cambodia’s fishing lots in the first serious attempt at fisheries reform.

“Some conservatives did not want to reform the way I wanted to. I asked for the fishing lots to be cut, and they said, ‘No.’ But I did cut them because in the executive body, I am the most powerful,” he said.

Hun Sen again said people should take fisheries matters into their own hands—a suggestion that last year resulted in small demonstrations and the burning of at least one fisheries’ office.

“When you see the bad fishery officials demanding money from you next time, arrest them, tie them up and send them to me,” Hun Sen said.

(Additional reporting by Ham Samnang)





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