Sihanoukville, Cambodia — As a tourism area, Sihanoukville is highly dependent on the fishery sector for its food supply. The Sihanoukville State of the Coasts report, however, shows a large disparity in commercial fishery production to that of the small-scale production, which highlights a growing concern regarding the intrusion of trawl fishing boats within the 20-meter depth. Thus, the result is diminishing fish catch by small-scale fishers, despite efforts of the provincial government to establish 19 sites for conservation and protection covering 5,398 hectares of seagrass, coral and mangrove areas.
To address this problem, about 45 community leaders and ICM Technical Working Group members gathered to participate in the Training on the Management of Habitat and Fisheries Zones in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
During the hands-on training, the participants were able to review the zoning scheme prepared for fisheries and habitats and determine gaps in implementation; update the zoning map by identifying existing uses of the area, drafting activity guides that will include permitted and prohibited activities; and mechanisms and arrangements for improved enforcement. The draft output of the training workshop will undergo further review, consultation and refinement with due consideration of existing national laws including the Law on Fisheries (2006) and the Protected Area Law.
"Sometimes, we only know what's happening in our communities, we don't have, or sometimes we don't care what happens to other communities. But now we see that most of the problems concerning resources and fisheries are shared and therefore, we need to have a more systematic way of addressing these," said a participant from Prey Nup district.
"Trawl fishing is still a major problem in Sihanoukville. Without proper zoning, demarcation and logistical issues on enforcement, our coastal resources are in danger especially with development activities in the province," a fishery cantonment officer expressed during the discussion.
At the closing ceremony, recommendations to address these concerns were presented to local officials including the support to finalize, adopt and implement the updated zoning scheme for fisheries and conservation; lobbying at the national level to recognize the provincial zoning plan and to provide livelihood support to local communities to reduce pressure in conservation zones.
In his opening speech, HE Sbong Sarath, Governor of Preah Sihanouk Province, emphasized the importance of ensuring the sustainable utilization of coastal and marine resources in the Province. He attributed the recent membership of the Cambodia as part of the World's Most Beautiful Bay Club to the ICM initiatives in Sihanoukville and encouraged the participants to continually learn and immediately apply their knowledge and skills.
The training session was conducted by Nygiel Armada, Fisheries Expert of the USAID FISH project; Marlitio Guidote, Public Awareness and Enforcement Expert of the USAID FISH project; and Belyn Rafael and Andre Uychiaoco of PEMSEA.