Efforts to save fish highlighted

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A boy sits next to buckets of fish from the Mekong river. Environmental experts concluded discussions on migratory fish management held by USAID on Tuesday. Chhut chheana

National and international environmental experts concluded discussions on migratory fish management and preservation in Cambodia on Wednesday through a workshop facilitated by the US Agency of International Development (USAID) in Phnom Penh.

As an outcome of the two-day workshop, four key indicators have been identified to assist the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in formulating the strategic development framework to ensure the sustainability of freshwater fish supplies in the Kingdom.

The four indicators extend to promoting and enforcing strict regulations to prevent fishery crimes, such as using illegal fishing gears – tube nets, electric device and poison to name a few.

They also include establishing protected areas and developing aquaculture by turning fishing ponds and the flood-prone areas in the forest (freshwater swamp) into sanctuaries for fish.

Moreover, the indicators also cover the provision of training for the fishing communities to jointly preserve fish.

This will happen through the creation of patrol teams, to oversee the protected areas and share technical expertise on fish rearing to boost aquaculture and fill the demand for freshwater fish.

Lastly, the indicators promote the monitoring of output change by creating the medium and long-term strategic plans in five and 10 years.

University of Nevada environmentalist Zeb Hogan said the indicators will include an arrangement of proper passes amid a hydropower dam construction to allow the migratory fish to swim freely through the river.

“As we know, construction of the hydropower dam and use of illegal fishing gear, such as tube nets, along the Mekong river, Tonle Sap river and other S3 rivers – Sre Pok, Sesan and Sekong – have obstructed fish movements,” he said.

Furthermore, Hogan said climate change had lessened the amount of water in the river, which led to the dwindling of water current and freshwater swamp, all of which affected fish sustainability.

He added that overfishing is another obstacle for fish sustainability. “It requires the appropriate vision to manage, preserve and develop fish sustainably for the future,” he said.

He also noted that creating the right vision to foster the strategic development plan to sustain fishing resources requires input from all relevant parties for thorough consideration.

The director of the Fisheries Conservation Department, Ouk Vibol, said these indicators can be implemented by decision-makers in the fisheries development strategic policy process to preserve freshwater fish in Cambodia, especially the rare and endangered migrating fish in the long-term.

“Currently, we are working on these and need participation from all involved parties in terms of ideas, techniques and resources to improve the implementation of the strategic policy. It will ensure the sustainability of our fish in the future,” he said.