State of water : Cambodia
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3.9. Threats to marine environment

3.9.1. Waste from Residential Areas

The government was concerned with rebuilding the economy after a few decades of civil war and decided to designate Sihanoukville as an economic and industrial zone for development. Increasing the population will increase the consumption of goods, which in turn influences waste disposal issues. Garbage and sewage are major problems in waste disposal, which must be taken care of immediately. Poor management of these matters will cause destruction of the marine environment.

3.9.2. Waste from industries

In late 1998, the government signed a memorandum on free trade zone investment in Sihanoukville. This memorandum concerns port rehabilitation, and other developing industrial fields including zone for wood production and processing sectors, electronic sectors, food and non-food sectors, light industry sectors, and marine production processing sectors

Concerns about wastewater treatment have not yet been taken into account for these industries. Therefore, wastewater released from these industries may be directly discharged into the sea. If so, there would be damage to the marine environment including fauna, flora and the quality of seawater and beaches.

3.9.3. Waste from recreation areas

The fast growing tourism sector is attracting investors to improve recreational facilities, including hotels, transportation, food, souvenirs, and others. Up to now, many hotels, guesthouses, restaurants are being operated in Shihanoukville City. Environmental management at recreational areas has being improved by stakeholders.

3.9.4. Waste from agricultural activities

Agricultural waste including residues from pesticides and chemical fertilisers for cultivation and waste from marinculture in Cambodia affects the marine water quality. The total cultivated area in Cambodia is about 1.9 million hectares (World Bank, 1997). Cambodian farmers encouraged the use chemical fertilisers and pesticides to increase their agricultural production yield.

The upward trend of indiscriminate use of these chemical compounds is of increasing concern as residues from these substances are carried out by surface run off from cultivated areas to water bodies, which causes water pollution.

The main aquaculture activity discharging high amounts of toxic waste into water bodies is shrimp farming. Most marinculture farms are located in Koh Kong Province, where people carry out shrimp farming by clearing the mangrove forest. The number of shrimp farms within this province is about 2.7 percent of the total mangrove forests in the Koh Kong Province, and are increasing about 1.9 percent every year.

3.9.5. Pollution from port activities and development

The project on Sihanoukville seaport rehabilitation was considered and approved by government in 1998. This proposal requests the construction of port facilities including a container cargo berth and its handling equipment installation. To construct this container port, about 1,312,000m³ of soil will be removed from the berth area and an additional 465,000m³ will be removed from the canal.

There are two main problems to consider when removing soil from the sea. First, there are particles that may be released during the removal of this large amount of soil. If there are many particles and debris generated and suspended in the water, the current will transfer them to other places. In this case, these particles will pollute the seawater and may affect other places including fishing grounds, sensitive areas and recreational beaches, which must be protected from any kind of pollution. Secondly, proper dumping places are required for disposal of the removed soil. Otherwise, it may cause pollution in the sub-soil in the ground and underground water. However, the impact from removing this soil does not have permanent or a long-term effect ob environment.

3.9.6. Pollution from maritime activities

The number of ships movement at Sihanoukville Port is increasing every year; it interesting to note that the international community is concerned with new types of marine environmental pollution cause by ballast water discharged from ships.

Another type of marine pollution that may have an impact on Cambodia water are ship accidents such as oil and other harmful substances (some chemical substances) released from ships.

Additionally, another problem is maritime navigation; abandoned ships can disturb maritime transport and fishing activities.

Small scale pollution can be found in ports in terms of sewage, garbage, and oil spills, which are caused during normal operations of ships, ports, and accidents when loaded and charging goods.

3.9.7. Pollution from offshore development

Oil and gas exploration within the Gulf of Thailand is becoming possible. There are about ten exploration blocks, which are located in Cambodia waters. These platform installations and oil exploitation may have some impact on the environment that can be classified into four main categories, namely physical present, operational discharge effects (solid and liquid waste), accidental loss, and accidental spill.

3.9.8. Effects from charcoal production

It is noticeable that charcoal production has also affected the coastal environment. So far, people have produced charcoal from mangrove trees for domestic use. Nowadays, mangroves charcoal production has moved from domestic use to commercial purposes (for export).

3.9.9. Effects from illegal fishing

The use of dynamite and poisonous substances by fishermen may not only kill fish but also destroy the marine environment. Electricity devices are very rarely used for fishing at sea. Fishermen use this in shallow waters particularly in nesting and feeding grounds. The impact of this is very high because it makes live fish escape from their habitat and never return.

3.9.10. Pollution hotspots

As mentioned earlier in this report, it is understood that many environmental problems occur along the coastline including destruction of the natural environment, mismanagement of natural resources, and pollution from recreation areas, residential zones, and industries, as well as pollution from port and maritime activities. However, , negative effects occur in different places. Therefore, hotspots along the coastline can be divided into four areas according to the geographical governance namely: Koh Kong Province, Sihanoukville City, Kep City, and Kampot Province.

With regard to environmental problems and human activities along the coastline, three main hotspots will be highlighted in this report including Sihanoukville City, Koh Kong and Kampot Provinces.

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Table of contents > 3. Sea Area
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Coastal ecosystems
3.3. Coastal resources
3.4. Other Natural Wonders
3.5. Fisheries
3.6. Oil and Gas
3.7. Salt pans
3.8. Medical plants
3.9. Threats to marine environment
3.10. Threats to the coastal environment