MCC’s mission was a necessity: to achieve responsible and sustainable fishing practices whilst supporting local communities and improving Cambodia’s marine resources.
Cambodia’s rough history makes it the country it is today. The country has pressing needs for societal and economic development. Unfortunately, this means the environment is not their first priority.
Before MCC: The Dying Sea
The rate of destruction in the Cambodian waters is unprecedented. Before MCC even started, recreational divers could easily find seahorses around the Kep archipelago.
Then a bottom trawler came.
Before we knew it, seahorses had become a rare sight.
Dynamite and cyanide fishing have destroyed and poisoned the seabed. Electric fishing has killed all fish and and living things within. The massive trawling nets have uprooted seagrasses, broken coral reefs and removed everything in between.
Fish stocks have plummeted while the demand for fisheries increased. The traditional livelihoods of local fishermen – together with a key part of their culture – may vanish. Forever.
The Beginning of MCC: The Silver Lining
Feeling devastated, our founder Paul Ferber decided to bring hope back to the place.
At first, it was a difficult process.
The locals did not appreciate foreigners coming to change things in Cambodia. At one point, rumors spread that MCC came to stop fishing all together. This caused people to form groups against us before we had even set up our home base.
But we simply let our actions speak for themselves.
We respected the local culture while building a good relationship with the policy makers and other important stakeholders.
After years of hard work, the Cambodian government and local communities finally started to believe in our mission and vision.
MCC on a Mission: Conservation and Research
The early days of MCC was well known for our proactive mission.
When we saw an illegal fishing boat, we chased them.
When we saw an electric fishing net, we cut it.
What people often overlooked, however, was our research efforts. Researching the socio-demographics and marine habitats helped us highlight the key conservation areas. Species-specific surveys gave us insights into the populations of marine life. Most importantly,
scientific data allow us to measure and improve our own conservation work.
Our first marine biologists, volunteers and interns worked very closely with the Royal government of Cambodia. We presented them with many marine research reports. Finally, we gained the support from the Fisheries Administration and Kep’s Provincial Government.
Once the MFMA area was set up, the government invited us to set up our home base here on Koh Ach Seh, Kep.
Today, we are already seeing the return of corals, seagrass, sea horses and many other species that once disappeared from the area. This is a proud moment for everyone in MCC who had sacrificed everything just for a dream.
And today, the dream has come true.
The Future with MCC
Although we have come a long way, this is not the time to rest.
Our neighboring waters have already depleted their marine resources, making ours a lucrative spot in their eyes. Many illegal fishing boats are still creeping in our area.
They drool over our fishes, turtles and dugongs, which can fetch high prices in the underground market. We need to keep monitoring the sea alongside the Cambodian government.
Remember, it took only one person to found our organization.
You, too, can make leave a mark in history!