Police arrested, fined and then released three men on Monday for transporting more than 50,000 baby snakehead fish in Kompong Thom province, officials said Tuesday.
Yong Sam, Stong district police chief, said his officers received a tip on Monday regarding the transportation of the fish and immediately sprung into action.
“We arrested three people and seized 53,000 baby snakehead fishes that were in 32 containers,” Mr. Sam said.
Mr. Sam said police stopped the men in their car on National Road 6 at 8:30 a.m. on Monday in Samprorch commune.
“All of the men are the fish dealers and were going to sell the fish to people in Siem Reap for farming,” he said.
The government banned the farming of snakehead fish in 2005, saying the ravenous fish’s appetite for smaller fish posed a danger for freshwater fish stocks.
“It is a legal violation because the fisheries law bans all illegal transportation and raising of snakehead fish,” Mr. Sam said. “Now the fish dealers are turning to modern methods to transport the fish, so it makes our law enforcement officers’ jobs difficult as they try to crack down.”
Mr. Sam said dealers often change their license plates as they travel across the country, putting a new plate on in each province.
“Some bad guys still take a chance to do this business because they can earn high profits,” he said.
Kroch Rorn, 35, Sok Vin, 46, and Hak Vann, 16, were arrested, fined $1,200 and released after agreeing to cease transporting snakehead fish.
Pen Vannrith, chief of the Kompong Thom fishery cantonment, said the fish were bought from Vietnam and were being transported to Siem Reap for farming.
Mr. Vannrith acknowledged that in his own region, snakehead farming continues to be a problem.
“We don’t have any checkpoint to check them,” Mr. Vannrith said.