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Fishing Lots Canceled in Four Provinces

Cambodian fishermen move their fishing net from the Mekong River as they catch fish on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the cancellation of commercial fishing lots in four provinces along the Mekong River, in a decision aimed at helping families and reducing conflict along the river.

In a sub-decree signed Monday and distributed to media on Tuesday, Hun Sen said the policy would preserve fish resources but would not affect families that fish along the river.

Chan Ratt, a program officer with the Fishery Action Coalition Team, said the new policy would help “end conflicts” over fishing rights on the Mekong, but he said the enforcement of the policy remained a concern.

Millions of Cambodians rely on the Mekong River as a source of food, but conservationists worry that overfishing could lead to a depletion of the populations in the river.

The policy decision comes just a week after Hun Sen verbally ordered the closure of 35 fishing lots on the Tonle Sap lake, citing hardships for everyday Cambodians.