WHO ARE WE ?
Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC) is a non-profit NGO that has been protecting Cambodia’s ocean since 2008. We were the very first organization to actively work on the ground on marine conservation in Cambodia. For the past years, we have pioneered marine research and conservation in order to save endangered marine life and habitats, first in Koh Rong Archipelago and now in Kep. We have also established long-term relationships with local small-scale fishing communities, which have helped provide MCC with a complete understanding of the most pressing issues that impact both people and the environment. MCC is committed to:
- Protecting and restoring healthy and sustainable marine ecosystems;
- Supporting and empowering small-scale fishing communities who’s people, for generations, have primarily relied upon local marine resources for their food and livelihoods;
- Engaging with and helping to inform local, regional and national levels of the Cambodian government in the development of sustainable fisheries and the implementation of best practice regulations and management.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
The Kep archipelago is home to a truly unique marine environment. It is host to the biggest concentration of seahorses in Cambodia, formerly had one of the most extensive seagrass beds in South east-Asia, fringing coral reefs, mangrove forests along the coastal areas and much more. These ecosystems are fragile and face an amalgamation of anthropogenic pressures. Their fragility, and the rate of which damaging practices are occurring, calls for immediate international attention.
In 2006, Cambodia decided to ban trawling in areas shallower than 20m (everywhere in Kep) to protect its ocean. However, a whole fleet of trawling vessels is still operating on a daily basis in the Archipelago. A lot of these vessels use electrified nets and are industrial scale Vietnamese trawlers and pair-trawlers. Fisheries activities in Cambodia have been overlooked for many years with legislation either poorly enforced, or not enforced at all.
Like the majority of Cambodia’s coastal areas, the Archipelago suffers the catastrophic impacts of these illegal fishing techniques. The consequences are vast: habitats destruction, species decline, pollution, sedimentation, algae blooms, and reduction of local fishers’ livelihoods quality. Overfishing and habitat destruction have already caused fisheries within the Archipelago to collapse and others are on the verge of collapsing. In the last couple of months we sadly found the carcasses of four rare and endangered Irrawaddy dolphins washed up on two beaches within the Kep Archipelago.
Thus, an efficient protection is deeply needed. Not only for the general health of the ecosystem but also to support local communities and the small-scale fishers, whose livelihoods are also endangered.
WHAT IS OUR SOLUTION?
In 2016, MCC's recommendation for the creation of a second Marine Fisheries Management Area (MFMA) in Cambodia (the first in Kep Province) was approved by the Royal Government of Cambodia. The MFMA will cover 11 357 hectares, protecting 46 hectares of coral reefs, approximately 2000 hectares of seagrass meadows, and various endangered species, such as Irrawaddy dolphins, seahorses, dugongs, turtles, and whale sharks.
To improve the MFMA effectiveness, we have designed unique, robust and cost effective artificial reefs (see picture below). These artificial reefs snag and entangle bottom trawling nets, effecting the ability of illegal vessels to continue operating in the Archipelago. Thanks to the modular design, the units can be built to varying heights and placed at various depths. This will ensure that regular, legal activities are not affected. These structures will have 4 main purposes:
- Acts as an artificial reef, creating complex and diverse habitat for various marine species.
- Demarking and protecting the areas of the new MFMA from illegal bottom trawling and other destructive techniques.
- Improve water quality by enhancing sediment filtration through the addition of natural bivalve aquacultures. We will seed the 47 structures each with 1000 bivalves. Once seeded one single unit can filter approximately 230,000 liters of water per day.
- Provide alternative and sustainable sources of food and income for the struggling small-scale fishing communities through an increase of commercial and non-commercial marine species protected by the newly created MFMA.
WHY DO WE NEED YOU?
MCC team is now starting to construct the 47 artificial reefs for this project. Each of them will be placed at strategic underwater locations, which have been established by the expertise of MCC and the Fisheries authorities. Each structure will include 21 concrete blocks and a set of oysters to seed. This will be a considerable effort for MCC alone, as our human and financial resources are not unlimited.
We need you! We are determined to build and deploy the 47 structures as soon as possible, to begin tackling the illegal trawling that is destroying the Archipelago, day after day. Once the project has been established, MCC will be able to self-fund the ongoing management and maintenance costs. After receiving the appropriate training, local communities will begin to take ownership of management of this project. They will manage the bivalve aquacultures and the artificial reefs, as well as take a major role in the surveillance of the MFMA.
Every euro, dollar, pound and riel that we receive will go straight to the Artificial Reef Project, and to the direct protection of the Archipelago. As a contributor, you will have the chance to see your money go into something real and meaningful.
For more information, questions, comments, suggestions, you can contact us at [email protected]
We will do our best to answer and convince you of our need to protect this little piece of paradise we are fighting for.