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National Fish Day spawns conservation hopes

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
Fish are released to mark National Fish Day in Siem Reap province yesterday. Srey Kumneth

National Fish Day was marked yesterday in Siem Reap province, where more than one million fish were released into the river which forms the moat of Angkor Wat temple.

Government officials and conservation experts applauded developments in fisheries sector and called for greater conservation at the event, the 16th of its kind.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Veng Sakhon applauded the progress of fisheries conservation as yields of fish caught in natural lakes, rivers and the sea had increased.

This was thanks to contributions by farmers and officials in cracking down on illegal fishing, he said.

“This event is to inspire people to understand the importance of fish resources and conservation of local fish species, particularly locally extinct species as well as conserving biodiversity to ensure sustainable resources for supporting people’s living, ensuring food security, and eliminating poverty,” Mr Sakhon said.

To strengthen fisheries, the government encouraged communities to fish sustainably, eliminate illegal fishing and supply local markets by expanding fish farming, he added.

“We will continue these efforts,” Mr Sakhon said. “We have to develop aquaculture in fresh water, at sea, in ponds and in rice fields.”

Zeb Hogan, project leader of Wonders of the Mekong Project, said the event was a chance for the government to call out to all fishermen to work together with the fisheries administration on fish conservation.

Mr Hogan urged conservation of critically endangered fish through cooperation with fishermen.

“Illegal fishing is very difficult to control,” Mr Hogan said. “People fish at night. If they catch endangered species, it is easy for them to hide the fish. We try to work with groups of fishermen who agree to work with us to help conserve species.”

Currently, 516 fishing communities have been established, 41 of which were marine fishing communities, the ministry said. Last year, 3,925 illegal fishing cases were recorded, of which 86 cases were sent to court.

In 2017,the total amount of harvested fish was 856 tonnes, up 6.7 percent from the previous year, the ministry said.

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