It is my great pleasure to return to the district of Prey Nub once again. The National Fishery Day was established by the sub-decree number 99 issued on 25 September 2002. The nationwide action has been set up for the whole country after a process that was started in the 1980s and 1990s in a number of areas by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in mobilizing our people to raise fish. The population has grown year after year while our fish resource has decreased. Since the day of the establishment of the national day for fish, we first celebrated this in the lake of O Kampoeus of the village of Tuol Thnung in the commune of Rokar Khnong of the district of Chbar Morn of Kompong Speu. We then built a canal which is connected to the waterway of O Kraing Ambel – in which fish has been released there.
In 2004, which was the second year of Fishery Day, we released fish into the natural lake Punnareay of the village of Phum Thom Tbong of the commune of Punnhea Pun of Kandal’s district of Punnhea Loeu. In 2005, for the third year, we released fish in the lake of Boeung Sneh of the commune of Kandeang of Peamro district of Prey Veng. This time in the water reservoir of O Oknha Heng in the commune of Bat Koki of the Prey Nub district in the Sihanouk Ville, again we observe the national Fishery Day by releasing more fish into the natural system. What we have been doing is indeed an act of following examples of previous Kings of Cambodia. In between 1851 and 1904 under the reign of HM the King Norodom there was a good example of policy vis à vis fishing in those days. Belonging to a younger generation of some one hundred years later, we have to pay respect to this very thought-through policy.
Only one-third of the water area is allowed for fishing, leaving the two-third space for fish to pass by or for boat traffics. In 1874 there was this instruction that fishing with net smaller than two centimeters was forbidden. There were also decrees about fishing lot borders. The last one issued was in 1929 and we have change the demarcation in 2000 about 56% of which has been taken off the mapping for people’s fishing activities. In 1946, HM the King Norodom Sihanouk issued a Royal Decree on September 7 on rights to use fishing tackles in Cambodia. There were also some documents in relation to fishing by the French Governor in the time of the French colony as well. In particular, as far as fishing in the sea is related, in 1923 there was a Royal Legislation dated June 18 on the prohibition of selling and eating the sea turtles… and later the prohibition of sea turtles with scales. This may allow us to conclude that protection of natural resources – river and sea alike – has been a matter of concern since those days and not a matter of recent attention.
The decision made about 150 years ago has brought us benefit in relation to fish today and I hope that what we are actually doing now would be for our children in many generations to come. It is indeed impressive to have this report by HE Minister of Agriculture that the fish population in between 2005 and 2006 has increased, including some of the fish species that are believed to be extinct. The development has indeed been a result of our efforts to put an end to illegal fishing – ranging from using small holes net to the practice of electrifying and chemicalizing the fish. Also noticeable is perhaps the protection of inundated forests and mangroves – where fish is breeding. These are the steps to be continued. It is worth noting that along with measures deemed to be responsible for the increase of fish population, another important factor to be noted is the fact that fish culture has become a national movement, which I hope with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture’s extension service it would develop into a firm factor in addressing the need for fish consumption. HE Minister Chan Sarun said that it might be important to note that Cambodian could be the top country in Southeast Asia where fish is consumed – about 30 kilograms per person.
The lake of O Okhna Heng stretches over an area of about 57 hectares with a capacity to store up to 900,000 cubic meters of water in the rainy season and about 600,000 cubic meters in the dry season, while the irrigation from which covers three communes – Boeung Ta Pun, O Oknha Heng and O Chreov – about 2450 hectares. Today we release 50,000 fishes in the lake and hope that they will breed more. We have no choices in doing so because our water reservoirs (lake, etc.) are getting shallower because of silt brought by flood that we never restore them on the one hand, and illegal fishing is on the other. I would appeal to the Buddhist monks to help in educating our people to refrain from clearing inundated forests, etc.
Taking this opportune moment I wish to place an appeal that first) please do not fish in the time of fish recuperation for the sake of having more fish and bigger fish to catch in the fish catching season; second) please refrain from using fishing tackles that are prohibited by the state, whereas not only those who used would be punished but also those who trade/sell those tackles; third) please refrain from clearing the inundated forests along the river and lake and/or mangrove along the seashores. Effort must be made to take back and protect forest for fish breeding; fourth) mobilize our people to exercise fish culture activities in national waterways or in rice fields to help addressing the population growth at the rate of 30 kg per person. Attention should be made in preventing those who raise fish from culturing those fish that are predators to other fishes; fifth) take action to strengthen those fishing communities whereby involving people in defending fish stocks and lots;sixth) continue to provide extension service on measures to protect and raise fish, while making known to people laws on fish products that was adopted in March 2006.
I wish also to take this time to comment on the fact that we have made a good growth in agriculture leading to the achievement of high growth – over 11% or 13.4% in the year 2005. If we were to have a good agricultural product in 2006, we may continue to generate double-digit economic growth. This means that Cambodia is making a jump.
Taking that solemn opportunity Samdech Hun Sen offers to build a five classroom school building for the college of Chamnar, a six classroom school building and a three-room office building for the College of Hun Sen – Veal Rinh