Government, experts differ on fisheries outlook

Phnom Penh Post

Government officials presented a rosier outlook for the Kingdom’s imperiled freshwater fisheries than that espoused by scientists and conservationists at a global workshop on fisheries, food security and nutrition that wrapped up in Siem Reap on Friday. In his opening remarks, Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly claimed the government has strengthened enforcement of the Fisheries Law.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia … has paid close attention to conserving natural resources for development and building capacity for conservation,” he said, in an 11-minute speech that covered the threats to Cambodia’s fisheries, noting their importance to the national economy, migration and food security.

Eng Chea San, the director general of the fisheries administration, speaking on the sidelines of the conference, backed up Chhay Ly’s position, stating that since the start of the year authorities have confiscated some 1.5 million metres of illegal fishing nets.
“We have done a lot of cracking down on illegal fishing activities,” he said.

The comments, however, did little to challenge the assessment of many leading experts: that thanks to a combination of overfishing, climate change, deforestation and the destruction of wetlands, Cambodia’s Tonle Sap lake – one of the most productive inland fisheries on the planet – is at serious risk of out-and-out failure.

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