Dynamite fishing threatens Cambodia’s seahorses

Deutsche Welle
8 January 2014

Destructive fishing practices have decimated the once abundant seahorse population in Cambodia. One organization has stepped in to save the fragile animals by boosting marine conservation and education.

On a dock jutting into the cobalt-blue waters of Koh Rong Samloem, an island two hours by boat off the Cambodian coast, divers check their tanks before heading underwater. They are volunteers with Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC), a group that documents the seabed and animal life off the island, which was once teeming with seahorses.

They track the animals’ underwater habitat, says Emma Robertson, an Australian who is MCC’s in-house marine biologist. “If we come across seahorses, we want to know what size they are, whether they’re male or female. We’re really trying to find out the demographic of the population.”

That population used to be healthy, and fishermen would pull up at least 70 or so in their nets at every catch. But those days are long gone. Locals have told MCC numbers have dropped by more than half. To blame are largely boats from the mainland as well as from Thailand and Vietnam, who fish by dropping down weighted trawling nets that would simply scrap up everything they came across on the seabed.

Read more