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Communities Vote for the Protection of Kampong Smach in Cambodia

Cambodia — Over 60 village members in Prey Nob District, members of the Fisheries Administration and the Technical Working Group for Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) in Preah Sihanouk in Cambodia came together for a consultative workshop to establish the 1,000-hectare Marine Protected Area in Prek Kampong Smach.

"Traditional fishing is the main source of income for the families around here and this site has potential for ecotourism," District Governor Mr. Tith Vuthy explained at the opening of the consultative workshop on Protected Area declaration on 17 September 2010 in Prey Nob District. He added that illegal fishing and other destructive resource uses will destroy this potential if not acted upon immediately.While Prek Kampong Smach is a major source of income for fishing families, it is under threat from various users, including businessmen wanting to put up tourism projects in the site."Several community members said that there have been several business owners coming to the site and talking about putting up large-scale tourism projects here. We have seen that in many cases, mangrove areas like these are soon deforested to make way for resorts. We're trying to avoid that here," says an official from the Provincial Fisheries Administration.The consultative workshop in September was a culminating activity after more than one year of consultations, discussions and field researches with the villages. Prior to the workshop, the Fishery Administration led a resource assessment to determine the boundaries of the site, existing resources and resource utilization patterns among the communities. Based on the status of resources identified, the proposed protected area was divided into three zones: (1) Conservation area; (2) Protected area; and (3) Multiple use area. The task team, which was organized during the workshop will monitor activities within the MPA based on agreed permitted and prohibited activities.Marine Protected Area establishment in Kampong Smach is one of the priority action programs of the Provincial Government of Preah Sihanouk's ICM Programme for 2010-2012, supported by PEMSEA.