Clams confiscated in Preah Sihanouk.
Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities on Sunday seized more than 400kg of clams from fishermen in Prey Nub district's Veal Rinh and O'Chrov communes and returned them to the sea.
Provincial fisheries administration director Em Phea said on Monday that authorities patrolled the area on Sunday evening and found five boats using unauthorised fishing gear in O'Chrov commune's Koh Khyong village.
Residents at the village had previously reported illegal sales of clams to Vietnamese traders.
'The authorities confiscated 425kg of clams during the raid. We released them into the sea and destroyed 10 numbers of illegal fishing equipment seized from the fishermen,' he said.
Phea said authorities prevent the unauthorised sale of clams to Vietnam to ensure ample supply for the local market as the area is being turned into a tourist attraction.
Nun Doeun, 35, a fisherman from Koh Khyong village, told The Post on Monday that clam harvesting season started in early November, with traders offering up to 15,000 riel (around $2.50) per kilogramme for big clams and up to 30,000 riel ($7.50) per kilogramme for smaller ones.
'The traders sell the bigger clams in the local market. Smaller ones are taken to the farm and grown before being sold to Vietnamese traders,' he said.
Pheng Ny, a clam farmer and trader, told The Post on Sunday that despite owning a 5ha clam farm, she still needed to purchase more from fishermen to supply the local market.
'I help local fishermen by purchasing small clams from them to grow in my farm before supplying the local market. If I don't buy small clams from them, they would sell them to Vietnamese traders,' she said.
She said fisheries administration officials have asked local fishermen and traders not to sell clams to Vietnamese traders.
'I saw Vietnamese traders coming to buy clams from Cambodian fishermen. They can offer higher prices depending on the size,' she said.
Say Kem San, another clam farmer and trader, said on Monday that he too buys clams from local fishermen to support their livelihood and prevent Vietnamese traders from buying them.
'I bought clams from local fishermen not because I encourage illegal fishing. I just want to prevent Vietnamese traders from buying them and to support the livelihood of fishermen in Koh Khyong who have no land to cultivate crops,' he said.
O'Chrov commune chief Chib Chan Ravy told The Post on Monday that all Koh Khyong villagers are fishermen and don't have any land for farming. He said the villagers sometimes resort to illegal fishing gear to catch fishes, crabs and sea shells, among others.
'As the local authority, I let it go but I don't want them to commit fishery crimes because it can affect the livelihood of the whole community,' he said.
Ravy said some local fishermen also work closely with the authorities by informing them about illegal fishing activities.