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Fishermen to Gather in Kampot March

More than 500 coastal fishermen from three coastal provinces have been allowed permission to gather ahead of World Environment Day, rights officials said.

The fishermen were originally denied permission by Kampot provincial authorities, but after meetings late Tuesday, Kampot Deputy Governor Khem Samorn said they would be allowed to continue a march Wednesday, a day ahead of Environment Day.

The fishermen plan to gather in Kampot town in the morning, then carry banners through the streets denouncing illegal sales of land along the southern sea coast, in a strip of forest called Korng Kang.

Wednesday's gathering would be the first of its kind, organizers said.

"The objective of the march is to thank and to protect the mangrove forest that has provided support to the livelihoods of coastal communities for many generations, and to show common eager fishers in coastal areas in protecting mangrove forest," said Leng Sarorn, project officer of the Fisheries Action Coalition Team. "There were huge areas in the coast covered by mangrove forest, but at the present time these mangrove forest areas have been degraded."

"Losing mangrove resources, losing people's life!" he claimed. "Mangroves protect the coast from erosion, surge storms, especially during hurricanes and tsunamis."

"The mangrove forests are often the object of conservation programs because of the uniqueness of the mangrove ecosystems and their protection against erosion," he said.

Khem Samorn said he decided to allow the march because the Ministry of Interior approved. Police will provide security for the marchers, he said.