While illegal logging often dominates the environmental spotlight, concern about the future of Cambodia’s coastal region takes center stage today.
About 200 people, including government officials, monks, students and NGO workers, are expected to participate in a beach clean-up in Sihanoukville today to celebrate World Environment Day’s “Save our Seas.”
This year’s theme, environmental officials say, is particularly relevant to Cambodia, which faces increasing pressures on its seawaters and coastline.
“These activities will raise awareness throughout Cambodia of the need for environmental action, and for coastal conservation in particular,” Minister of Environment Mok Mareth said in a statement. He said the clean-up of litter along the beach emphasizes the need for different groups to work together on the problems.
Although Cambodia doesn’t have the same extent of coastal industrial pollution as many other countries across the globe, its seawaters are under attack by a number of other forces.
As recently as January, a senior government environmental official charged that the coral reefs, mangroves and other tropical trees inside the Ream National Park off the coast of Sihanoukville were being destroyed at an alarming rate.
Chay Samith, acting conservation director, said Thursday that the rapid destruction of aquatic forests by shrimp farmers and others remain a “main concern” in the Gulf of Thailand.
The problem has been long-standing because of insufficient enforcement. The fishermen, Chay Samith said, also use illegal equipment and explosives such as grenades to blast the coral reef to gain easier access to the fish.
Chay Samith identified several other environmental threats.
He said water pollution is increasing because of chemicals used by shrimp farmers, fuel spilled by fishing boats, and waste dumped at floating villages. Water pollution especially is bad off Koh Kong’s coastline, he said.