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Awareness of Citizens’ Rights and Roles is a Momentum to Boost for Addressing Positively

Texted by: Mrs. Nou Sarim (Community Facilitator)

Checked and edited by: Mr. Lorm Sinath (Project Officer)

Illegal fishing in Thnoat Chum commune, Baray district, Kampong province have been decreased. Eight offenders were instructed to clarify on electro-fishing in conservation area on the 25th June 2015 and confiscated electro-fishing materials and contracted to stop their activities.

 

Since the fisheries reform in 2000 and 2012 of Royal Government of Cambodia, we noted that illegal activities were still occurred in communities such as: flooded forest clearance for crops cultivation, land grabbing from power people and using illegal fishing in community fishing areas with anarchy. These issues caused fisheries resources especially fish were lost from day to day, it’s caused to fishers’ daily living consumption that bank on only fishing especially poor fishers. After project implementation of Community Based Organization (CBO) in Thnoat Chum commune which is facilitated by Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT) and funded by Forum Syd, provided many trainings to communities like: rights, advocacy methods, filing a complaint, local good governance, natural resources management, climate change adaptation, fisheries and environment laws…, etc. So knowledge of community people became better and better. Actually, in early 2015, fishing area in Thnoat Chum commune had many illegal fishing such as: Brush Park, mosquito net and electro-fishing used by some citizens who live inside and outside the commune. Due to seeing these illegal activities, committees and fisher representatives in Thnaot Chum commune used their rights and roles to report to commune authorities and relevant experts. As a result,    they put a complaint to FiA cantonment and proposed to intervene and address these issues.

 

 Referring to Mr. Chuong Cheang, a deputy of CBO Korng Meas in Thnoat Chum said that “after the Royal Government of Cambodia reduced 35 fishing lots in 2010 and completely omitted all fishing lots in 2012, I observed that illegal fishing activities were occurring almost everywhere, exactly in community fishing areas in my commune and occasionally they fish in protection areas”. He continued “before 2010, I noted that community fishing areas like: lake and river have a lot of fish and biodiversity, but in the last few years during in 2014 to 2015, fish catch and biodiversity have been lost because of using illegal fishing gears such as: electro fishing, Fyke net made with mosquito netting, and brush park to catch fish either small and big fish”.

He also mentioned that “due to seeing the activities of destruction anarchy and less interest from competent experts to crack down the illegal fishing, on 18th June 2015 committees and fisher representatives proposed to conduct meeting with commune councils to take action and address together. The meeting agreed and decided to put a law suit to FiA cantonment in purpose to find intervention and solve these issues”.

After filing a law suit to FiA cantonment, immediately they identified the offenders and prepared this case to provincial court in Kampong Thom to take action by law. Five days after filing case from FiA, the court took action to solve this case. He issued writ of summons to eight offenders to clarify face to face with court. Mr. Chann Pok, commune chief in Thnoat Chum said that “after court order to eight offenders to clarify, those offenders offered electro fishing materials of five sets to commune councils and competent experts to demolish and contracted to stop their activities.”

In additional, Mr. Bou Yeng, chief of CBO Kong Meas in Thnoat Chum said that “previously, people in my commune have less knowledge regarding to use of rights, advocacy, roles in participation to prevent fisheries and natural resources, but after supported from Forum Syd through FACT to provide trainings and capacity building, committees and members have capable and gain knowledge and they are able to use their rights to advocate to authorities and relevant stakeholders to address illegal activities and participate actively in fisheries and natural resources management in commune”.

He confirmed that “nowadays, illegal fishing is a bit declined, it’s because of awareness and participation from citizens to intervene and address it on time from commune councilors and FiA. Last but not least, I would say thanks to Forum Syd, FACT, local authorities and FiA that always support budget and techniques and also provide trainings to strengthen our capacity, beside we have not got abilities to use our rights to put lawsuit as well.”

 

 

In conclude committees and members of CBOs and citizens as well in Thnoat Chum commune have gained more knowledge regarding to right utilization, roles, and advocacy and participate actively in natural resources management in community. Moreover, the illegal fishing issues are decreased, local authorities and competent expert have responded and have good cooperation to crack down illegal fishing that occurring in community fishing areas.