A senior official in the Royal Cambodian Navy yesterday denied a Thai media report that Cambodia has banned and seized Thai trawlers for illegally fishing in Cambodian waters without paying concession fees.
Tea Sokha, a deputy commander of the Cambodian Navy based in Koh Kong province, was quoted by Thai newspaper the Bangkok Post yesterday as saying his officers had confiscated four Thai fishing boats.
Mr Sokha said yesterday by telephone that this report was false, and that no Thai fishing boats have been seized.
Mr Sokha said he would seek clarification from the Thai newspaper, and went on to speculate that the newspaper had been trying to stir up trouble about the Cambodian-Thai marine border.
“The paper did not interview me at all, but it has attributed information to me,” Mr Sokha said. “We did not ban Thai fishing boats, but they just reported that to create problems.”
The Bangkok Post also reported that the newly appointed governor of Koh Kong province, Bun Loeut, has canceled all fishing concession contracts with Thailand that were signed by recently replaced provincial governor Yuth Pouthang, a report that Mr Loeut denied.
“I did not ban them from entering our water. I am only reviewing the legality of those fishing boats,” Mr Loeut said yesterday. “The general situation in our waters is calm as usual. Thai businesspeople are just worried among themselves.”
He explained that the province is reviewing the concession contracts, which allow Thai fishermen to catch fish in Cambodian waters, but that none of them had been canceled.
“The Thai fishing boats that do not have legal documents are scared to come into our marine territory and must stay anchored–that’s why they’re making noise,” he said.
Around 1,000 fishing boats from Thailand’s Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat provinces rely on fishing in Cambodian waters by paying around $1,810 per boat in concession contracts originally agreed to by Mr Phouthang, according to the Bangkok Post. Mr Phouthang could not be reached for comment yesterday.