Marine Conservation Cambodia: Protecting Cambodia from Illegal Fishing

Marine Conservation Cambodia was created in 2008 and was the first organization to actively work on the ground on marine conservation in Cambodia. First established on Koh Rong Samloem, MCC researched the area and assisted communities to enforce Cambodian fisheries laws to protect marine life. After establishing a Marine Fisheries Management Area (MFMA, Cambodia’s equivalent of Marine Protected Areas), MCC was invited by the Cambodian Government to relocate to Cambodia’s eastern coast in 2014, area where conservation efforts were deeply needed.  After four years of scientific research and patrols based on Koh Seh, MCC’s recommendation for the establishment of the second MFMA in Cambodia has been approved and our founder integrated the IUU national fishing committee as co-chairman.

MCC’s efforts consists in protecting and restoring healthy and sustainable marine ecosystems; supporting and empowering small-scale fishing communities who rely upon local marine resources for their food and livelihoods; engaging with local, regional and national government in the development of sustainable fisheries and the implementation of best practice regulations for Cambodia’s firsts MFMAs. Our long-lasting collaboration with local fishermen brought us an awareness of the most pressing issues to tackle, allowing us to work toward ensuring them a long-term sustainable livelihood.

A primary goal of the MFMA and the Conservation and Anti-Trawling Structures (CANTS) deployment is to enforce Cambodia’s existing laws. Numerous articles of the 2006 Cambodian Law on Fisheries are violated daily, by foreign and domestic vessels. Kep Archipelago bordering Vietnam, foreign ships regularly cross the border illegally, taking advantage of Cambodian authorities’ lack of capacity and resources. Electric trawling, for example violates six laws but goes on unhindered. It constitutes a class-1 offense, which is a mandatory jail term, but seldom results in actual punishment. Kep Archipelago authorities being currently under-equipped to safely and efficiently tackle illegal fishing issues.

MCC has designed a robust, permanent, cost effective, adaptable, multiple purpose concrete block unit, which snags and entangles bottom trawling boards and nets. The unit is relatively easy to deploy because of its simple, interlocking design. With high strength and considerable weight, the unit effectively damages valuable fishing assets, imposing a strong economic dis-incentive to illegally fish in protected areas.  Thanks to the modular design, the units can be built to different heights at various depths, thus avoiding impacts on regular and legal navigation. This unique system will provide practical solutions to inter-linked problems (often tackled in isolation) of marine species disappearance, reef destruction, collapsing local fisheries and increasingly impoverished communities.


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