MCC’s mission was a necessity: To Protect and Conserve Cambodia’s diverse and beautiful Marine Ecosystems, with proactive conservation and marine research to be used in the adaptable management of marine protected and marine management areas, promoting responsible and sustainable fishing practices whilst supporting local communities and improving Cambodia’s marine resources.
A Fisheries in Collapse
The rate of destruction in Cambodian waters is unprecedented. Cambodia’s fisheries is not just in decline but is currently in free fall collapse.
This is due to the highly destructive and illegal practice of Bottom Trawling being prevalent throughout the inshore waters. Along side other destructive and unsustainable practices that have been adopted due to the impacts of the Trawlers stripping away the sensitive inshore habitats needed for a healthy and productive ecosystem.
The Beginning of MCC:
Feeling devastated at what he was witnessing, our founder Paul Ferber decided to take action, alone at first, but then with support from local villagers..
At first, it was a difficult process.
Many local fishers did not appreciate foreigners coming to interfere in their activities. 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.
Paul and his wife Sao battled through and even had 4 children whilst living within the local communities. With an in-depth understanding of local politics and the needs of local people they built strong relationships with the policy makers and other important stakeholders.
After years of hard work, the Cambodian government and local communities finally started to fully understand, support and 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 confiscated it.
What people often overlooked, was our behind the scenes work, our community outreach, our advocacy work and our research efforts. Researching the marine habitats and socio-demographics helped us highlight the key conservation areas. Species-specific surveys gave us insights into the populations of marine life.
Scientific and observational data allows us to measure and improve our work, bringing an adaptive approach to fisheries management.
Our marine biologists, volunteers and interns worked hard to produce some of the first ever reports on Cambodia’s marine environment. Our scientific marine research is designed to support the National Government, Fisheries Administration and Kep’s Provincial Authorities.
We assisted in created Cambodia’s first Marine Fisheries Management Area!
We were then invited to set a new base of operation on Koh Ach Seh Island in Kep Province. To assist in creating Cambodias second MFMA.
Today, we are already seeing the return of marine life to the area. With seagrass regrowth, sea horses, Dugongs and Dolphins returning to the area. This is an amazing achievement for everyone in MCC who had sacrificed everything just for a dream.
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 area for poaching. Illegal fishing boats still creep into our area especially at night.
They see the benefits of our work the increase in overall Biomass, the fishes, turtles and dugongs, which can fetch high prices in the underground market. We need to maintain our presence on the water, maintaining our monitoring and research work alongside the Cambodian government to provide unto date information that can be used in adaptive management..
Remember, it took only one person to found our organization.
You, too, can make a difference!