Today my wife and I are happy to return here to preside over this meaningful fishery day. This also is my fifth presence since when we started this event since July 01, 2003 in Kompong Speu province, on July 01, 2004 in Kandal province, on June 29, 2005 in Boeung Sneh in Prey Veng province and in 2006 in Sihanoukville. I wish to thank the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as well as those related with the preparation for their all-out efforts in making this event happen in five provinces already.
In early July, normally we have two events to celebrate – the National Fishery Day to set the fish free in natural waters, under my presidency, and the National Forest Day or tree planting day to be conducted under the auspices of HM the King. The two events are being designed at this time to take advantage of rainfall for releasing fish and for growing trees. According to the report by HE Chan Sarun, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), though fish culture has not provided us a similar amount to those provided from the natural facilities, the catch from this source is on the increase as well.
I am so glad that thanks to efforts made by MAFF, especially from the Fisheries Department and local authority, actions to prevent fishing offense as well as clearing inundated forest have brought about a good increase of fish – especially small species while there noted a decrease in the population of bigger species. … I have mentioned many times the Royal Government’s late reform policy vis-a-vis issue of fishing lot in 2000-2001. Since mapping of fishing zone by the French colonial authority in 1927, there had never been any reform done whatsoever.
We have discovered problems in relation to this issue. In 1927, areas mapped by the French were deep water zones contained a large population of fish enough to feed then small Cambodian population. Those fishers who caused destructive effect to the fish population were small too. But in 2000, we have a population 12 million whereas our fish zones have gone shallower, and there are more illegal fishermen.
We also notice problem between those who fish and those who cultivate rice. Fishermen want to let water out of the reservoir for fish catch, while rice farmers need water in reservoir for cultivation. We have learned the problem and finally decided to cut a size of 56% of the French mapped fish zone so as to get this issue resolved. I seem to have received no complaints or request for resolving issues in relation to conflict between fishermen and rice farmers anymore.
Though the state loses income from cutting this size of fish zone still the benefit goes to our people. However, depending on fish from natural system alone would not meet the need of an increasing population, at the birth rate of 2.4% at all. We are facing with problems of silt sitting on beds of rivers, canals and also illegal fishing and deforestation of inundated forest bringing about problem of losing more population of fish due to destruction of fish breeding space in the natural system. We have to take matter for granted or we will have less fish for consumption need for our generations to come.
I would argue that it is not sufficient to depend now on natural system for fish protein because of the afore-mentioned reasons. We have made a constant development in term of rice cultivation and provision in face of increase of human population. We have attained a surplus volume that an export 1.5 million tons has been noted. Efforts are being made to increase further volume of rice export. Food security in term of rice is not a problem anymore but it is in term of protein – ranging from fish to other meat. Taking this opportunity I would like to place my order to all concerned border control institutions to ban all imports of pork and birds – chicken and ducks, etc. as we are now facing resurgence of bird flu and toxic pork. We have also place warning for snakehead fish (Trey Chhdao) culture, which consume other species for living.
Most of all we have learned recently of a new game in relation to illegally grabbing land from filling lakes that are in the state’s possession. This happened in Phnom Penh. I called to the Phnom Penh Mayor and also talked to the Judge whereby I told him that he had infringed upon the Government’s power completely. The case is about the lake Pong Peay in which a size of 157 hectares has been designed to be state’s property. It could not be given to anyone at all unless there is permission from the state. What they did was they claim the land and then fought one another for their land’s rights in what they seem to make us believe a conflict of interest. No matter who would get the court’s decision to win or lose the case, they would be entitled to the land they have claimed. I warn this responsibility of protecting the state assets to mayors and governors of the city and provinces.
There could be a collusion between A as plaintiff and B as defendant. No matter what the court’s decision may be the state will lose its land asset. I would give no heed to such a decision because I have to protect the state’s property and they have no power to decide such a case. This is a new game and they act as if they are in conflict of interest. Their way of getting this case involved in a legal procedure could have misled our justice police to enact the court’s decision for their sakes as well. I wonder whose land the court has decided this side gets 60% and that side gets 40%? Take environmental issue into consideration, they filled about 30% of the lake and this would indeed cause negative impact on fish population and recuperation.
In relation to the above matter we have to do two things together 1) to conserve available and existing fish and 2) to release fish breeds into the natural water system, and to increase fish culture activities By conserving we mean to maintain inundated forest, bring to justice actions of clearing forest offense, curbing illegal fishing, especially at the time of recuperation. By releasing fish into the natural system and culturing fish, we wish to increase our fish reserve both in natural system and in wherever ponds that they may live. It would in the end increase fish catch for coming generation. Technically, we can breed not only fish but also lobsters with help given by JICA. We now have 87 fish-breeding stations.
I wish to give out six recommendations as follows for consideration:
1) Strategizing for an increase of fish stock in natural system under all forms whereas actions should be taken to provide protection of environment, rivers and lakes, where fish recuperates, and shelters during the dry season. We should also increase efforts in making bigger ponds for fish culture as well as strengthening fish culture in natural system, fishing community and fish culturing along with rice in the field…
2) Culturing fish should be upgraded to national movement in both advanced and traditional methods. We should seek to encourage private investment in this sector. I see there is a need for an Institute for Hydro-culture Research both inland and sea water. Take Vietnam and Thailand, they have respective population of 80 million and 60 million but they have been able to provide them with sufficient fish and also for export…
3) Increasing work efficiency in managing, conserving and developing fishery resources according to the law on fisheries that was adopted by the National Assembly in 2006. Effort must be made to re-enforce law abiding mechanism in relation to fisheries…
4) Taking measures at all levels to curb anarchic inundated land grabbing and mangrove forest whereby involved competent authority must confiscate and record them as state’s property. Inundated forest is indeed vital for fisheries and it demands all-out attentions where four ministries are concerned – MAFF, Environment, Water Resources and Meteorology, and Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction…
5) Strengthening fishing community and increase their participation in management. We should focus on empowering the fishing community so that they could actively participate and increase their sense of responsibility in managing natural resources by themselves. Each fishing community should itself be prepared to become a production and processing unit along the line of one village one product (ovop). People living around and in Tonle Sap Lake should consider fish resources in the lake their own resources, for we need water for rice but also fish for protein…
6) Raising awareness of importance of fisheries in relation to livelihood so as to seek wider participation on a regular basis. We have done some good TV spots and I know that more is on the way. I wish that the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports include this awareness services in their curriculum so as to raise our children’s awareness in relation to this matter.
On that occasion Samdech Hun Sen offers a school building of six classrooms, a skill training hall plus 50 sewing machines and five computers and accessories to the Junior College of Hun Sen-Choeteal, a school building of six classrooms for the Junior College of Daun Keo, a school building of six classrooms for the Primary School of Barai, a school building of six classrooms, a director’s office and a skill training building, equipped with computers and accessories for the College of Por Ambel, a school building of six classrooms for the Primary School of Cho Neang Pa Em, a school building of six classrooms for the College of Prey Tub, a school building of six classrooms for the Primary School of Hun Sen – Prey Pha E and a school building of six classrooms for the Primary School of Thmor Phos.