Prek Pnov district authorities in the capital have issued a ten-day deadline for people breeding fish to remove illegal enclosures and artificial ponds they have set up in and around Boeng Samrong lake.
A statement issued on Monday said that district authorities have decided to designate the 336-hectare lake as a reservoir to be part of flood management plans in Phnom Penh and nearby provinces.
The statement said officials would be sent to rehabilitate parts of the lake which have become shallower following encroachments by people who have dug up land surrounding it to create fish breeding ponds.
“In order to process the restoration of the lake smoothly, the authorities require all residents to remove their fish breeding enclosure and ponds within ten-days from the date this statement is issued,” it said.
Sim Sophong, district administration chief, yesterday confirmed that the authorities want to preserve the lake as a freshwater reservoir to help reduce flooding in parts of Phnom Penh during heavy rains.
He noted that some local officials have allowed people to set up illegal fish breeding enclosures or ponds in and around the lake.
“But now we want to take the lake back as a water reservoir and need people to remove these illegal enclosures and ponds immediately so that we can start rehabilitation works,” he said.
In the statement, the authorities also suggested that breeders whose fish have reached the full size should sell them quickly and bring the smaller ones to the authorities and collect some compensation.
Mr Sophong refused to comment about any compensation to the fish breeders.
He said that there are more than 300 families living in the area who use the lake to breed fish.
“Previously we conducted a census and found that there are 302 families using the lake to breed fish and we require them to stop doing so,” Mr Sophong said.
Ngin Dy, municipal fisheries department chief, yesterday said his department is collaborating with the district authorities to stop illegal fish breeding in the lake.
“We started our operation yesterday and went to check on fish breeding enclosures and ponds in and around the lake,” he said. “We don’t know exactly how many there are and we are now counting them.”