Tuna-Fishing Sanctions Lifted

Cambodian ships are again able to fish for tuna in international wa­ters and export tuna abroad since the International Commis­sion for the Conservation of Atlan­tic Tunas lifted sanctions last month, Cam­bodian officials said Friday.

The ICCAT made the decision during their annual meeting last month in the US, said Fish­eries Department Director Nao Thuok. Cambodia had faced the san­ctions since 1998 over poor licensing en­forcement for Cam­bod­ian ships trolling in international waters.

“We can now catch the fish and export them,” said Nao Thuok, Fish­eries Department director. “And if we have a ship, we can catch fish in an international sea.”

“We are very excited, although we don’t have the fish to export yet,” said Poum Sotha, chief of Fishery Inspection.

Nao Thuok said tuna is available in local waters during No­vem­ber and December.

The Fisheries Department will work with the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, which is responsible for registering ships wishing to fly a Cam­bod­ian flag, to withdraw licenses from ships accused of illegal fishing, said Poum Sotha.

An unknown number of foreign and local ships are flying the Cambodian flag while fishing in international seas illegally, Poum Sotha said. “We plan to have a meeting with the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation to agree on the withdrawal of li­censes,” he said. “They require our side to strengthen the registration of ships and order ships to obey the fishing law.”

Suong Heng, secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, said his ministry is not responsible for registering Cambodian-flagged ships. He said the Coun­­cil of Min­isters was responsible.

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