By: Phnom Penh Post
Large-scale sand dredging has resumed in coastal areas of Koh Kong province following a three-month halt in the controversial operations late last year, officials said Sunday.
The dredging, which began in Koh Kong in 2008, has long drawn criticism from local and international rights groups, who claim it is causing environmental damage and impacting on the livelihoods of local fishermen.
Pech Siyon, director of the provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy, said on Sunday that dredging recommenced in early November after the last licensed company wound down operations in August citing a lack of demand in Singapore.
Pech Siyon said four local companies – which he named as LYP Group, Udom Seima Trading, the International Singapore Company and the Direct Action Company – are currently involved in exporting “at least” 2,000 cubic metres of “selected sands” to Singapore every week.
“We can’t stop these local companies from dredging sand in Koh Kong province, because they have received licenses from the Royal Government of Cambodia to do this activity in the province,” he said.
Pech Siyon said there was no compelling reason to shut the companies down, saying that their activities “have not impacted the environment in the area”.
Neang Boratino, Koh Kong provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said Sunday that about 200 families supported by small-scale fishing operations in Koh Kong province had been adversely affected by the dredging.
“The dredging activities of these companies have really impacted on local fishermen’s daily businesses, local environments and biodiversity in these areas,” he said.
“I am now afraid that if they continue these dredging activities in the province, natural resources and biodiversity will be completely destroyed and those people who are dependent on fishing as an occupation will lose their jobs.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BROOKE LEWIS...read the full story in tomorrow’s Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.