Officials seek assistance in planning for marine park

A map marking the area of Cambodia’s first marine national park from a February 8 sub-decree signed by the Prime Minister establishing the park. Photo supplied
A map marking the area of Cambodia’s first marine national park from a February 8 sub-decree signed by the Prime Minister establishing the park. Photo supplied

Environmental officials confirmed yesterday that they are seeking the assistance of conservation NGO Fauna and Flora International (FFI) in drafting a management plan for the new Koh Rong Marine National Park, and that for now, the previous conservation structure operated by the Fisheries Administration and FFI will remain in place.

“Right now we are looking for technical cooperation with FFI, for support by experts and scientific research to make the management plan,” said Thay Chantha, director of the Ministry of Environment’s Marine Conservation Department.

Prior to last month’s establishment of the park, subject to the Protected Areas Law, the waters around Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem were protected by a Marine Fisheries Management Area (MFMA) established in 2016 by the FiA and FFI.

“Everything the MFMA has, they have to continue, but they have to cooperate with the [Ministry of Environment], especially with our rangers at the sub-national level,” Chantha said, noting that rangers are on site to patrol land designated for protection, and will also begin to patrol the waters using one speedboat. “The fisheries conservation area is the part of the [new park], but that part will have some review because it does not fit the Protected Areas Law,” he continued.

In an emailed statement yesterday, FFI Coastal and Marine Conservation Project Manager Marianne Teoh said the organisation is in discussions with the MoE “to understand their vision for the site, to discuss technical support and to ensure that this new legislation will reinforce the ongoing protection efforts at the site”.

The Preah Sihanouk Fisheries Administration confirmed they would continue to operate in the park as before until otherwise instructed.