Venerable Buddhist Monks,
Your Excellency Acting Chargé d’Affaires,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today it is my distinct honor and pleasure to join all of you in inaugurating the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute of the Department of Fisheries. This event marks another new achievement that has come into the light with a grant from the Royal Government of Denmark. Today’s large gathering to witness this launching testifies that this is a significant new milestone in the history and development of Cambodia’s fisheries science. This is appropriate in our country of rich, uncounted and diversified natural resources.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I express our deep appreciation to the management and staff of the MAFF as well as of the Department of Fisheries for their cooperation in realizing this very important research institute. Your work will help ensure the sustainable management, development, conservation and use of Cambodia’s fisheries resources. This is also an important step in integrating Cambodia’s fisheries sector into the international mainstream.
Allow me also, on behalf of the people and the Royal Government, to express our deep gratitude to the Government of Denmark. The Danish government, through the Mekong River Commission, contributed technical assistance and funds for the construction of this Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute, supporting national fisheries research for effectivity now and in the future. This valuable contribution will forever be recorded in the history of cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Denmark. Indeed, the Kingdom of Denmark has provided tremendous assistance to the Royal Government of Cambodia in our efforts at economic and social development, especially in human resource development, and which has already recorded noticeable progress.
Across the world, any nation can prosper, depending on the availability of a strong intellectual class which plays a leading role in rationalizing the issues faced by the nation, and who spread knowledge and skills and educate the citizens via their compiled research and technical and scientific findings. Indeed, the prosperous societies are those with plentiful scientific and technological resources and readers. The Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute will become a key institution of research in the management and development of fisheries, with focus on new ideas and state-of-the-art science and technology. The Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute shall provide information and documentation for the public with the use of modern, computerized systems. Its operation will doubtless contribute to improving our country’s economic and social status, reducing poverty and sustaining the fisheries resources of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
The fishery sector is crucial for the daily subsistence of each and every Cambodian. Cambodia is a fish eating society and fish is an easily accessible food. We are proud that Cambodia is rich with fishes in the rivers, lakes, ponds, irrigation systems and even in the rice fields. In particular the Beung Tonle Sap Lake with its rich stock of fishes can feed millions of people and support those whose livelihoods depend on fishing – all without relying on imported fishes. As the Khmer saying notes: “Where there is water, there the fish are.” Therefore we should work ever harder to preserve these resources to be ever lasting for the many generations to come.
The world is increasingly concerned with the sustainability of water and fisheries which are an important and most valuable source of natural resources which support the lives of humans, animals, plants and the entire ecosystem. As another saying goes: “Where there is water, there is life; and where there is water, there is the source for development”. Indeed those resources are so important for the day-to-day livelihood of the Cambodian people, and thus is a major concern for the reduction of poverty among our people.
You all are aware about the Royal Government’s strategic policy with regard to national economic development and the sustainable management of natural resources – with focus on priority areas such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, energy development, and the management of natural resources and waste. In recent months relevant legislation has been adopted or drafted, such as the Land Law, Forestry Law, Law on Protected Areas Management and the Law on Fisheries. The passage of such laws will respond to the need for a rational framework for the sustainable use of natural resources. All these accomplishments have been realized due to our clear understanding of the scientific techniques for development and management of natural resources and the need to maintain ecological balance for future generations.
We are conscious that sustainable development cannot be achieved in isolation. We need to cooperate with all countries to tackle the challenges of cross-border environmental impacts of the uses of shared natural resources such as water, maritime fisheries, oil and natural gas. Within the framework of the Mekong River Commission we have been formulating the development plan for the Mekong Basin and a comprehensive program for the use of water. These actions will benefit all the nations across the entire Mekong region. This is consistent with the Royal Government’s strategy of active international cooperation in water resource management, especially in the regional and sub-regional frameworks such as the MRC and Greater Mekong Subregion programs. Such cooperation will help ensure the use efficiency and sustainability of all natural resources, most importantly the waters of the Mekong.
Pervasive poverty among the rural people has forced them to exploit the natural resources to fulfill their basic needs in unsustainable ways. Thus we clearly see the correlation between poverty and the degradation of natural resources and the environment. Moreover, the limited access to information and weak information technology, coupled with the lack of understanding by the public on the importance of natural resources and the environment and the concepts of sustainable development among the public contribute to the degradation of natural resources and constrain the formulation of a rational development plan. To solve those problems, we need to work hard in delegating power to the rural communities so that they can actively participate in developing plans and programs, and then take responsibility for the management of the natural resources of their own.
As a specific measure, we have reformed fisheries by cutting down the coverage of fishing lots and improving the direct access to these lots by the poor. This is a key contribution made by the Royal Government in its efforts to reduce poverty and promote equitable distribution of economic gains. Now we are implementing the management of fisheries resources by the people through the establishment of fisheries communities across the Kingdom of Cambodia.
I wish to use this opportunity to call on all people and fishermen in the canceled or cut off fisheries lots during the recent reform, to help preserve the resource for your own and your community’s benefit. Please do not use destructive fishing equipment that root out and destroy the fisheries such that these become scarce and finally we will no longer have fish for our dishes. In addition, the flooded forests are the important shelters for all kind of fishes to have their offspring, and thus we have to preserve these as well. Moreover, the MAFF must encourage the Department of Fisheries to focus on preventing destructive fishing. Finally, the Institute we are inaugurating today must participate effectively in scientific research for the development of the national economy and for the sustainable reduction of poverty reduction in Cambodia.
Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government and the Cambodian people, I convey, through Your Excellency the Acting Chargé d’Affaires of Denmark, our deep appreciation and gratitude to the government and people of Denmark for their productive contribution for the construction of this Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute. We also appreciate Denmark’s contributions to the rehabilitation and development of other sectors. All this assistance will help speed up the development of Cambodia we all yearn for. I also wish to thank the international community and our development partners for their generous contributions for Cambodian people. I stress that in whatever we have achieved so far, we cannot ignore the support and assistance of the international community. I believe you all understand clearly the difficulties and the aspirations of the Cambodian people. Thus I hope the donor community will remain our long-term development partners. Cambodians will remember this generosity forever.
Finally, I am convinced that the MAFF will actively and effectively manage this institute and the training and research programs in the field of fisheries. I expect that the operation of this institute will produce good results for our nation, for poverty reduction and for Cambodia’s integration into the international community. Most especially this institute will help Cambodia preserve these valuable resources as our great historical heritage for all future generations. In closing, I wish all of you – the Venerable Buddhist Monks, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen present here, the five gems of Buddhist blessings. May I now declare the official opening of the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute!