“Coastal Fishing: How to empower the community to tackle challenges”
Phnom Penh (6 July, 2011):Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) in cooperation with RFLP-FAO and Fisheries Administration on 6 July co-organized a roundtable discussion on a topic of “Coastal Fishing: How to empower the community to tackle challenges” in Phnom Penh to raise awareness of the issue among public through the media.
The discussion aimed at making journalists to understand about the current situation and challenges of the coastal communities and the participation of both government and donors to empower the communities for their sustainable livelihood.
Speaking in his welcoming remarks, CCJ President Mr Pen Samitthy said the discussion is really important as it provides an opportunity to journalists to meet with fisheries experts and officials so that they get broad understanding about the issues and can help raise awareness of the issues among the public.
“When journalists understand well about the coastal fisheries issues, they can write more articles to convey message to both government and the public, especially policy makers and law makers,” he said.
Speaking in the name of H. E. Dr. Nao Thuok, Delegate of the Royal Government of Cambodia in charge of Fishery Administration, Ms Kaing Khim, Deputy Director General of Fisheries Administration, said she was happy to join such important discussion. In her session on “The government and its effort to sustain the coastal resources”, she focused on the issues of current coastal resources, their contribution to the livelihoods of the people, and the government’s effort and policy to sustain the coastal resources.
The RFLP-FAO project has smooth cooperation with the Fisheries Department of the government’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery; and 15 coastal communities have been selected as the project’s target beneficiaries (6 in Sihanouk provinces, 6 in Kampot and Kep, 3 in Koh Kong), she said.
Ms Kaing Khim also observed that the annual fisheries yield is the same but the people get less from fishing, due to the increase in the number of fishers. This trend is affecting the livelihood of the coastal communities. Since the project in place, it has helped raise awareness of the coastal communities’ risks such as storm and giant wave and how to report on the fisheries crime in their areas.
In his session on “Challenges facing the coastal community”, Mr Thay Somony, RFLP National Project Coordinator, focused on the current challenges facing the coastal communities and some recommendations to tackle those challenges.
He said the four-year project (2009-2013) funded by the Spanish government has been focusing on 6 different issues: 1) encouragement to have a joint resource management of both fishers and government institutions; 2) increasing the safety of the sea surface and decrease vulnerability of the fishers and their communities, 3) pushing for best practice on keeping and processing the fishery yields; 4) strengthening the existing income generation and creating new activities for the fishers and their communities; 5) coordinating to improve micro-finance service for community members; 6) sharing experiences among the six-project implementing nations in the region. The project also aims to ensure that both women and men, young and old people get the benefit for the project of RFLP, he added.
There were also some other speakers – representatives of coastal communities — shared their experiences of making a living in the coastal communities and raised a few issues on how the community can make their living; what impact the communities face with the coastal resources; and what the communities think of their future.
At the discussion, Steve Needham, RFLP Information Officer, also focused on a topic of “Making a living beyond fishing” raising some issues such as making a living in line with sustainable coastal resources, alternative means of making a living for coastal community, experience from abroad: coastal communities in neighbouring countries, what the government and international community can do to empower the communities.
He said RFLP has shared experiences from other countries.
Jose Parajua — Programme Manager, Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme for South and Southeast Asia (RFLP-FAO) – and some 60 journalists and government and NGO officers were also at the event.
Thanks to the interest in the topic by the Cambodian journalists, the event was widely covered by the Cambodian media. CTN, TVK, Bayon TV, TV5, and SEA TV stations aired the news about the event in the evening of the same day when we organized it. Meanwhile, many newspapers including Rasmei Kampuchea, Kampuchea Thmei, and Koh Santepheap, online media and radio stations also reported about the event.
In conclusion, the event was successfully organized and it earned a lot of the support from the media.