After 4 years of hard work, frustration, struggle, passion and dedication, the 11 354ha Kep MFMA has been nationally proclaimed! This is a huge step for Kep Archipelago, and for Cambodia. This MFMA is the second one in the country, after Sihanoukville province. This is a new dawn, and a breath of hope for every single person that fought for this to happen!
With the support from Kep provincial Administration, a New Marine Fisheries Management Area in Kep Province has been approved and promulgated by HE Minister of MAFF through proclamation N. 193 dated on 12 April 2018. Thank to MCC/ICFC, IUCN/MFF and SEAFDEC/UNEP/GEFF for technical and financial support.
Our first thanks go to the great work by The Fisheries Department of Conservation under the leadership of H.E Eng Cheasan, Vibol Ouk, Sorin Sar and Kuch Virak With Support from the Provincial Government of Kep, Under the Leadership of H.E Ken Satha, H.E Som Piseth, H.E Tep Yuthy and Theng Borin, With the Support of The Minister of forestry fisheries and agriculture (MAFF) And H.E Nao Thuok.
We also want to give a warm thank you to ICFC, the International Canadian Fund for Conservation (top ranked Canadian conservation charity in the Financial Post’s 2017 charity ratings.) for your continuous support through the years. Without your support, we couldn’t have achieved such a great thing.
Last but not least, we want to give the biggest thank you all the MCC crew who battled so hard to make this happen. To every single volunteer and previous staff, THANK YOU!
Here is a small description of the zoning, and the conservation and anti-trawling structures.
The Kep Archipelago MFMA is an 11 354 ha protected area. It will offer 4 differently managed zones, designed to protect highly sensitive seagrass meadows and coral reefs from further destruction while preserving the livelihoods of local fishing communities, all of which are suffering due to illegal and destructive fishing activities.
- Conservation Area (112ha): Defined as
potentialarea for aquatic animals and aquatic plants to shelter, to spawn, feed, and grow. Fisheries Conservation Areas are strictly prohibiting any activity that has a negative effect on fishery resources, except for permitted scientific research purposes from Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
- Fisheries Refugia (420ha): Defined as
specificarea for one or more aquatic species in the period of criticallife cycle. Fishing and other activities inside fisheries refugiasare strictly prohibited during the protected period; howeverthe family fishing activities and other activities, which are not harmful to fisheries resources, are allowed as usual, after the Protected Period. Protected periods will vary in timeframe, and are catered to each Fisheries Refugia in order to reflect the species biology and habitat unique to that area.
- Fisheries Protected Area (10040ha): Defined near or close to fisheries conservation area, in order to secure the sustainability of the fisheries resources. Fisheries Protected Areas can be used for ecotourism activities,
family scalefishing or recreational fishing that will not harm coral reef or biological resources.
- Recreational and Research Area (405ha): Defined as an area exclusive to recreational activities and protection of biodiversity resources, ensuring benefit from
sustainabetourism. This area is allowed for recreational diving, snorkeling, and for collecting scientific information and monitoring resources change/trend. All kind of fishing activities arebanned inside this area.
To improve the MFMA efficiency, MCC developed the Conservation and anti-trawling structures (CANTS), with four primary functions: (i) prevent illegal and destructive trawling; (ii) improve water quality in the entire Kep Archipelago; (iii) delimit the boundaries of the five different zones of the MFMA; (iv) act as a marine life aggregation
Thanks to a modular design, the CANTS can be built to different heights at various depths, thus avoiding impacts on regular and legal navigation, while having the potential to enhance and reinvent small-scale fisheries. This system (exclusive to MCC and Cambodia) will provide practical solutions to the inter-linked problems (often tackled in isolation) of poor water quality, collapsing local fisheries, increasingly impoverished communities, lack of marine areas under effective conservation management, and climate change.
MCC will have to deploy 47 of these structures, which represents 983 concrete blocks! Our team will progressively build it, stock it, and wait for the good conditions to deploy it underwater. We started the deployment of these structures the 17th of March, with the official dropping of the first block in the MFMA.
This proclamation is not the end, but the beginning. In the next months, MCC staff will closely work with the fisheries administration to build the management plan, for the next 5 years, as well as the dissemination of information in Kep province.
But don’t worry, we still will be on watch every day and night to protect this Archipelago from illegal and destructive fishing!