Electric shock rods seized in action on illegal fishing

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Authorities make arrests on June 20 as part of an ongoing crackdown on fisheries crimes in the area around the Tonle Sap. PURSAT PROVINCIAL DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

More than 500 electric shock fishing rods and nets weighing more than seven tonnes, as well as a range of other illegal fishing equipment, have been confiscated by Battambang provincial authorities in the past three months, according to Fisheries Administration (FiA) officials.

This followed an order from Prime Minister Hun Sen to clamp down on fisheries crimes without exception in the area around the Tonle Sap lake.

Provincial FiA director Chuong Sophea told The Post that while instances of fisheries crimes, including the exploitation of flooded forests, in Battambang have been low, they still occurred in some remote areas, particularly in Ek Phnom district.

Just two days ago, a joint police force discovered numerous cases of illegal fishing at former fishing lots No1 and No2 in Prek Toal and Kbal Toal villages of the district’s Koh Chiveang commune.

Among the fishing equipment confiscated were 8,700m of nets and 3,300 posts, while 150kg of different species of fish were released back into the lake.

“Implementing Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to crack down on fisheries crimes around the Tonle Sap lake over the past three months, Battambang province joint police forces acted and confiscated numerous items of illegal fishing equipment.

“The illegal equipment included more than seven tonnes of nets and 540 electric shock fishing rods, with 300 received from people vowing to no longer commit fisheries crimes,” Sophea said.

The illegal fishing equipment is being retained at the FiA’s Battambang branch, and at the four other cantonments under its jurisdiction, awaiting the decision of the national committee for combating fisheries crimes around the Tonle Sap lake, he added.

In Kampong Thom province, police reported on June 22 that rangers at the Balord station in Ramsar Tonle Chmar, in collaboration with provincial military forces, had patrolled Prek Balord and found fisheries crimes being committed in the protected area.

Provincial Military Police commander Hang Thol told The Post that during the operation, officers had destroyed illegal fishing equipment on the spot, including 380m of nets and 300 wooden posts, while 15kg of different fish species were released back into the river.

“Currently, the Military Police force is continuing to search the Kveng Krobey area of the Ramsar Tonle Chhmar region, where in the past the highest number of fisheries crimes took place,” Thol said.

Separately in Stung Treng province, FiA officials said that during the closed fishing season from May 1 to June 22, officers arrested 85 fishermen in the conservation area and confiscated and destroyed a range of illegal fishing equipment.

This included 14,000m of nets, 1,120 fishing hooks, three electric fishing rods and two battery packs, as well as two motor boats.

Provincial FiA director Sam Vichet told The Post that the 85 arrested fishermen had been educated and then signed contracts promising to cease fishing in the protected area, especially during spawning season.

“Even fishing with small floating nets or rods is banned in the breeding grounds,” he said.