Cambodia’s first large-scale marine protected area declared

I’m just back from the Red Sea buzzing from the excitement of running a pilot new underwater photography course, but even more overjoyed to hear news from colleagues in Cambodia.

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Cambodian local community crab fisherman

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Cambodia has just approved Cambodia’s first Marine Fisheries Management Area (MFMA) in the waters of the Koh Rong Archipelago.  Situated approximately 20 km off the coast of Sihanoukville and home to coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitats, it supports many charismatic species including sea turtles and seahorses as well as three Community Fisheries located across Daem Thkov, Prek Svay, Koh Touch and M’Pai Bai villages.

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Cambodian local community squid fisherman

The Fisheries Administration and conservation organisations have been working tirelessly for more than five years within the archipelago to consult with local stakeholders and communities and gather baseline data about the area’s biodiversity to support the designation of the site.
Fauna & Flora International and other organisations including Song Saa Foundation and Save Cambodian Marine Life have also played an important part in protecting the site and supporting the designation of the MFMA.

Although I can claim no direct role in this, I was delighted to support Fauna & Flora International and to work with both the Song Saa Foundation and Save Cambodian Marine Life. The images from that project continue to support the initiative and, as with all these ventures, there is still so much to do.

But for now, I offer huge congratulations to those hard working scientists, project managers, government officials and local fisheries community staff who made this happen, against difficult odds.

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The enigmatic seahorse

 

For my fellow underwater photographers who care about the environments that they dive in, this is another example of how images can count in the conservation of our oceans, lakes and rivers.

Best wishes, dear friends

Paul

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