– Your Venerable Buddhist Monks,
– Your Excellencies Ambassadors to the Kingdom of Cambodia,
– Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests,
– Dear Compatriots and Students!
Today, I have a great pleasure to once again attend the 9th anniversary of “National Fishery’s Day” with Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. This ceremony is a new opportunity that allows me to pay my respect to all venerable Buddhist monks, and extend my greetings to all our compatriots living in Svay Rieng province who are attending this important day. Your presences reflect the collective attention to the development and conservation of our national fishery resources, so that we can increase its production which is a source of natural protein for Cambodia’s people in the future generations and sustain our clean environment.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to commend the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, especially the management and all officials of the fisheries administration for having thoroughly organized and turned this meaningful National Fishery Day into a traditional day, which has been celebrated every year. This year in particular, the fisheries administration, the Secretariat of the National and International Festival Organizing Committee and Svay Rieng authority have jointly organized this event to raise awareness among the people including civil servants, institutions and agencies, and the private sector so that they can actively involve with the protection, conservation and development of fishery resources to ensure its sustainable management and use for future generations. Truly, the selection of 1st July as the national fishery day coincides with the nationwide closing of fishing season officially announced on 1st June to allow female fish to spawn and reproduce fry for next year. In this spirit, I strongly believe that this year national fishery day will mobilize cooperation, support and implementation from concerned stakeholders both at the national and sub-national levels from all the people to increase the effectiveness of the programs in line with the spirit of the Order 01 B.B.on Measures to Eliminate Anarchy in Fishery Using Barricades of Bamboos and Branches, Woven Bamboos and Construction Across Rivers, Lakes, Streams, Ponds along the Provinces surrounded Tonle Sap River. Along with this, we hope this event will strengthen the implementation of community aqua culture programs to set up food social safety nets in response to the spiraling population growth to restore Cambodia’s abundance of fishery resources experienced in the past, as an old saying that goes “where there is water, there is fish”. These are the cause and the strong commitment of the Royal Government that has promulgated the Order No. 01 B.B., which is not a result of mere imagination or coincidence.
In the past, although Cambodia was badly affected by the global financial and economic crises that started in mid-2008, Ketsana typhoon, other natural disasters, and burden brought by the responsibility to protect sovereignty and integrity against the intrusion of Thailand, but because of the timely laid-out of highly effective measures, support and involvement from all branches of armed forces, Cambodia can successfully overcome all crises and re-attain positive growth quickly. In particular, in 2010 we achieved 5.9% economic growth including 4% growth in agriculture, 13.5% growth in industry sector and 3.1% growth in service sector. Growth is expected to stand at 6% in 2011. This growth is made possible by the 4.1% growth in the agriculture sector of which paddy rice production and fisheries are expected to grow by 4.1% and 4.3% respectively. In addition to our high expectation of paddy rice production growth, which is the outcome of the implementation of the Policy on Promotion of Paddy Rice Production and Milled Rice Export, the rubber and cassava production are also on the rise. Furthermore, we have observed the rising prices of some crops that are key to growth in the agriculture sector such as paddy rice, cassavas, cashew nuts, corns and rubber. This trend is an important foundation for promoting development of the entire agriculture sector.
Moreover, according to the history, Cambodia is rich in fresh water fish, thanks to the vast Tonle Sap lake, and river system, lakes, streams and inundated low lands that are favorable for fish spawning. We also note that Cambodia’s fish consumption is around 52.4 Kg per capita, providing around 81.5% of total meat protein consumed in general. Apart from fulfilling domestic food demand, we have also exported fishery products abroad. These point out that the development and conservation of our fishery resources not only fulfill the need of nutrition, health and energy requirement as well as brain development, but also contribute to employment generation, the people’s livelihood and economic growth.
In this regard, the development of the fishery sector, by establishing fish ponds and community fish shelters, planting of flooded forests and mangrove, establishing conservation zones in sea area, along rivers, streams, and lakes to prevent shallowness, filling-in, inappropriate dam construction, and preventing river pollution caused by chemical substances, greatly contributes to the conservation and sustainment of fishery resources, biodiversity, environment and tackling of climate change. This requires collective effort and timely implementation of the policy measures with strong commitment and high responsibility. Destroying fish is an act of self-destruction. Therefore, we must not make ourselves prisoners of history.
I highly appreciate and value the contribution of our compatriots, who always participates in the protection of natural resources such as flooded forests, forests and wildlife, enabling Cambodia to remain abundant in natural resources till present.
For these causes, the Royal Government has laid out in-depth reform program for the fishery sector by transferring more than a half million square hectare of fishing zones to rural communities to directly manage and use fishery resources. This policy program enables them to actively and directly participate in decision-making, planning and developing programs at local level. As a result of the reform program in fishery sector, we have established a total number of 469 fishery communities and 655 fishponds communities, comprising of around 149, 490 families. Within this, we have enhanced management capacity of fishery resources for the rural poor.
This clearly reflects a great effort from the government in implementing poverty reduction policy through the sustainable use of natural resources and equitable distribution of growth.
We have noticed the severe impact of climate change and economic development activities on the sustainability of biodiversity and fishery resources. Besides these, some anarchic activities such as destruction of fish shelters, illegal filling of water areas for personal use, resettlement, transformation of the flooded forest into agricultural land, burning of natural forest, and illegal fishing have further put pressure on the development of the sector. In this spirit, the government must continue to push for and monitor the implementation of the Order No. 01 B.B. without time limit on measures to eliminate anarchy using barricade of bamboo and branches and woven bamboo and construction across rivers, lakes, streams and ponds in eight provinces surrounding Tonle Sap River, which was introduced on May 22, 2011.
For the cause of sustainable management and development of the fishery sector, I would like to lay out some additional measures and guidance as follows:
First, the Fishery Administration must continue to promote aquaculture and increase the natural fish stock through various means such as promoting fish breeding in breeding-hatching basin, which is the best way to sustain endangered big fish. Moreover, we must encourage the private sector to invest in fish and shrimp breeding, especially high value local fresh water fish, to fulfill market demand and contribute to employment creation, income generation and less fishing in natural water. We must also establish a network of fish-breeding farmers and focal farmers, who can disseminate technique of aquaculture at district and commune levels, especially in provinces where have not enough water and fish, for instance, Svay Rieng Province.
Second, the Fishery Administration must continue to push for organization of as much fish ponds communities as possible at villages-communes across the country because it is a strategy to increase the amount of fish and strengthen the existing fishery communities by establishing conservation sides at each community to protect as many female fish as possible for spawning.
Third, the fishery administration should persistently continue their activities on releasing as much as millions of prawn sheets into the lower land areas in order to make Cambodia rich in prawns as in the past. Moreover, all levels of the local authorities; in particularly, district, commune and village levels, private sector and other organizations such as schools, hospitals, factories, enterprises should be more proactive in participating in releasing prawn sheets in everywhere in their communities in order to make these activities become a culture of releasing prawn sheets across the country.
Fourth, concerned ministries, institutions and all levels of local authorities must effectively and responsibly implement the Order No. 01 B.B. that comes into effect without invalidity. The fishery administration should continue cooperation with all levels of local authorities as well as other concerned institutions to protect and better conservation in the spirit of high responsibility and unity by avoiding ignorance among the competent authorities; all kinds of illegal fishing must be reported on time for successful crack down; in particularly, fishing in the conservation areas must be forbidden. All fishing lot beneficiaries must strictly practice in accordance with their passbooks and the supervising fishery officials must adhere to their professional standard. Meanwhile, the fishery administration must take a tough stance on misconduct by its officials and seek the culprits of inundated forests encroachment which may affect the fishing yield; and other anarchical activities such as destruction of fish nest, digging canals or making dam, seizing state-owned land, illegal lower land ownership, burning or de-rooting the inundated forests and others illegal fishing activities, etc. by applying the toughest of effected regulations. At the same time, all levels of local authorities should disseminate information and advice their community residents not to take part in the above mentioned illegal activities.
Fifth, the fishery administration should broader their dissemination of approved fishing equipment not only to grass-root people but also to all layers of concerned authorities so that they can jointly monitor, report any use of illegal fishing equipment and take action timely.
Sixth, all levels of local authorities; in particularly, at the district, commune and village levels around Tonlesap lake must stop permission to establish illegal ponds and encroachment of state-owned land and must take those land back as state property. The fishery administration must take a tough intervention for those who destroy inundated forests and must immediately prepare Anukrit (Sub-Decree) for the demarcation of inundated forests.
Seventh, the concerned ministries, institutions and all levels of local authorities must take intervention to eliminate the anarchical drainage of sewage, rubbish, hard and liquid wastes and other toxic wastes into the sea, rivers, lakes, ponds, etc. that damage fisheries and environment. These issues have happened in some countries in which fish is no longer consumable because of high degree of toxic and health risk.
In this spirit, I am strongly confident that the management and officials of concerned ministries – institutions, all kinds of armed forces, all levels of local authorities as well as Cambodian people across the country will participate, support, collaborate and abide by the above mentioned points to achieve fruitful result.
I would like to conclude by thanking friend countries, international organizations and all development partners for actively contributing to agricultural development plan; in particularly, in this fisheries sector for the sake of development and poverty alleviation in Cambodia. I am strongly confident that through the 09th anniversary of the “National Fishery’s Day” and our unity in the fishery development and conservation, we will be able to retain the Kingdom of Cambodia as a huge fisheries grange.
Ultimately, may I wish the Venerable Monks, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the distinguished national and international guests, teachers and students the four gems of Buddhist blessing.