From the late 80s to early 2000s, ships with foreign flags have trawled these waters searching for the soft, brown sand that lies at the bed of the Koh Sralau river. They dredged in great volume, day and night, relentlessly and when the sand they have been looking for ran out, they quickly moved elsewhere along the river and start the process again.

From the late 80s to early 2000s, ships with foreign flags have trawled these waters searching for the soft, brown sand that lies at the bed of the Koh Sralau river. They dredged in great volume, day and night, relentlessly and when the sand they have been looking for ran out, they quickly moved elsewhere along the river and start the process again.

  Desolate.

Desolate.

 Before the ships came, the locals enjoyed a catch that averages out to 10 kilos of crabmeat in one day. But with all the dredging that has taken place, Kim Sam Bata's daily income was cut by half of what she used to earn. Whatever Kim's son-in-law brings back from the river has been steadily decreasing for years now and she has no more anger left in her to fight the injustice.

Before the ships came, the locals enjoyed a catch that averages out to 10 kilos of crabmeat in one day. But with all the dredging that has taken place, Kim Sam Bata's daily income was cut by half of what she used to earn. Whatever Kim's son-in-law brings back from the river has been steadily decreasing for years now and she has no more anger left in her to fight the injustice.

 Raksmey and Rorn, volunteers from local environmental NGO, Mother Nature, preparing the boat for a visit to Koh Poa, a fishing community just 15 minutes away from town.

Raksmey and Rorn, volunteers from local environmental NGO, Mother Nature, preparing the boat for a visit to Koh Poa, a fishing community just 15 minutes away from town.

 When the crab season ends after five months in May, most fishermen are bound to be left unemployed. Unaware of the impacts of sand dredging, these fishermen like Cheng, 47, were quick to jump onboard as navigators when offered USD 150 - a sum that is close to the estimated USD 200 they make in one fishing season. 

When the crab season ends after five months in May, most fishermen are bound to be left unemployed. Unaware of the impacts of sand dredging, these fishermen like Cheng, 47, were quick to jump onboard as navigators when offered USD 150 - a sum that is close to the estimated USD 200 they make in one fishing season. 

 One of the immediate impacts of big ships cruising along the river are broken fishing nets. It could cost them upwards of USD 100 and takes away valuable time from their fishing season each time the locals need to repair their nets.

One of the immediate impacts of big ships cruising along the river are broken fishing nets. It could cost them upwards of USD 100 and takes away valuable time from their fishing season each time the locals need to repair their nets.

 Badly entangled and unusable nets are often burned away.

Badly entangled and unusable nets are often burned away.

 Koh Pao, 2017.

Koh Pao, 2017.

 Even when Meak Sok, 45, was successful at times chasing away the big ships, it was still not enough as the trail of oil pollution left behind in the water quickly took a toll on the local crab population.

Even when Meak Sok, 45, was successful at times chasing away the big ships, it was still not enough as the trail of oil pollution left behind in the water quickly took a toll on the local crab population.

 The tributary networks in the Koh Kong province can stretch up to 100m wide and go as shallow to 1m deep.

The tributary networks in the Koh Kong province can stretch up to 100m wide and go as shallow to 1m deep.

 Despite an imposed ban on sand dredging activities in the area, sand cleaning facilities like these still appears active along the banks of the river.

Despite an imposed ban on sand dredging activities in the area, sand cleaning facilities like these still appears active along the banks of the river.

 There used to be over 700 families living in the village but with the lost of income, partly due to a decrease in daily catch, outward migration has been inevitable. Today, only less than 400 families remain. Koh Sralau, 2017.

There used to be over 700 families living in the village but with the lost of income, partly due to a decrease in daily catch, outward migration has been inevitable. Today, only less than 400 families remain. Koh Sralau, 2017.

 So much sand has been dredged away that some parts of the riverbed has deepen down to dangerous levels, turning the current beneath the surface extremely fast-flowing. Cheon Nary, 29 (L) and Leang Sithat, 26 (R), have recently witnessed two of their friends drowned in these unmarked deep ends of the river.

So much sand has been dredged away that some parts of the riverbed has deepen down to dangerous levels, turning the current beneath the surface extremely fast-flowing. Cheon Nary, 29 (L) and Leang Sithat, 26 (R), have recently witnessed two of their friends drowned in these unmarked deep ends of the river.

 Lim Lun, 57, said he was approached by a representative from the environment ministry who surveyed if the locals would allow sand dredging to take place again in the area. This came after a sizable force of 100 people was mounted up to chase away the trawling ships from their village vicinity.

Lim Lun, 57, said he was approached by a representative from the environment ministry who surveyed if the locals would allow sand dredging to take place again in the area. This came after a sizable force of 100 people was mounted up to chase away the trawling ships from their village vicinity.

 With the amount of sand taken away described as sufficient to build an entire football stadium, Lim Lun and his family expresses both regret and anger for everything that the locals have lost. This includes an entire mangrove island (50m x 70m) that was an important fishing site.

With the amount of sand taken away described as sufficient to build an entire football stadium, Lim Lun and his family expresses both regret and anger for everything that the locals have lost. This includes an entire mangrove island (50m x 70m) that was an important fishing site.

 The mangrove networks are important in crab fishing because it protects the mud crab population from fast flowing water. But with deepening river beds, these mangroves are now threatened too and often gets eroded away into the river, jeopardising the entire ecosystem.

The mangrove networks are important in crab fishing because it protects the mud crab population from fast flowing water. But with deepening river beds, these mangroves are now threatened too and often gets eroded away into the river, jeopardising the entire ecosystem.

 When Chao Sok Hom, 72, realised that her income was directly affected by the sand dredging ships, she joined many others to leave their home and work at the border cities across in Thailand.

When Chao Sok Hom, 72, realised that her income was directly affected by the sand dredging ships, she joined many others to leave their home and work at the border cities across in Thailand.

 Chao Sok Teara, 26, have spent the past five years working on different plantations in Trad, Thailand. Coming back home is expensive due to the cost of legal paperwork each time she crosses back to Cambodia. The working conditions on these fields, she said, are harsh but earning money in her home village was much tougher.

Chao Sok Teara, 26, have spent the past five years working on different plantations in Trad, Thailand. Coming back home is expensive due to the cost of legal paperwork each time she crosses back to Cambodia. The working conditions on these fields, she said, are harsh but earning money in her home village was much tougher.

 After better employment opportunities surface up abroad, the surge of Cambodian workers into Thai plantations have caused the authorities to increase the levy up to USD 415 per border crossing. That is almost more than twice what they make from fishing in a single season. Chao leaves behind two daughters and a father whom she gets to see only once per year.

After better employment opportunities surface up abroad, the surge of Cambodian workers into Thai plantations have caused the authorities to increase the levy up to USD 415 per border crossing. That is almost more than twice what they make from fishing in a single season. Chao leaves behind two daughters and a father whom she gets to see only once per year.

 With a number of great fishing spots in the mangroves disappearing due to rising land erosion, local fishermen had no choice but to crowd in on the few remaining spots. This trend is contributing to an issue of overfishing in the area.

With a number of great fishing spots in the mangroves disappearing due to rising land erosion, local fishermen had no choice but to crowd in on the few remaining spots. This trend is contributing to an issue of overfishing in the area.

 One of the many sites with irregular deep riverbeds that have caused land erosion.

One of the many sites with irregular deep riverbeds that have caused land erosion.

 For these villagers, living by the river has been the only constant across the generations.

For these villagers, living by the river has been the only constant across the generations.

 Fisherman Tet Kun, 46, is experiencing severe chest pains in the past several months but with his only source of income affected by the changed river morphology, he is worried that he could not afford the hospital bills. He is now resorting to only cheaper and less effective traditional pain killers.

Fisherman Tet Kun, 46, is experiencing severe chest pains in the past several months but with his only source of income affected by the changed river morphology, he is worried that he could not afford the hospital bills. He is now resorting to only cheaper and less effective traditional pain killers.

 Tet's oldest son, Kun Panha, 19, wishes to be an IT engineer instead to help his father with the medical bills.

Tet's oldest son, Kun Panha, 19, wishes to be an IT engineer instead to help his father with the medical bills.

 Srun Sok, 37, a father of four girls, said he was once threatened by the local authorities for joining a campaign to stop sand dredging in the area. He fears that if he is taken to jail, there would be no one left to fend for his family.

Srun Sok, 37, a father of four girls, said he was once threatened by the local authorities for joining a campaign to stop sand dredging in the area. He fears that if he is taken to jail, there would be no one left to fend for his family.

 Srun's wife, Paat Pana, 35, chooses to live one day at a time and not worry about the future. With discrimination and accusations from the authorities as trouble makers, Paat said that her family is only thinking about survival.

Srun's wife, Paat Pana, 35, chooses to live one day at a time and not worry about the future. With discrimination and accusations from the authorities as trouble makers, Paat said that her family is only thinking about survival.

 Sean Sopaat, 60, the head of Tameak village is one of the few brave ones to defy the authorities by not only joining the campaign to stop sand dredging activities but also offering his place for workshops and meetings to take place at.

Sean Sopaat, 60, the head of Tameak village is one of the few brave ones to defy the authorities by not only joining the campaign to stop sand dredging activities but also offering his place for workshops and meetings to take place at.

 A stockpile of sand located near to a river bank in Andung Tek.

A stockpile of sand located near to a river bank in Andung Tek.

 Many female members of fishing communities have also started working in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) set up along the border with Thailand as a way to supplement the household income that has been affected by sand dredging activities.

Many female members of fishing communities have also started working in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) set up along the border with Thailand as a way to supplement the household income that has been affected by sand dredging activities.

 A truck full of SEZ workers returning home during the evening peak hour.

A truck full of SEZ workers returning home during the evening peak hour.

 Fishermen playing a local game of juggling with a feather shuttlecock after a day's worth of fishing.

Fishermen playing a local game of juggling with a feather shuttlecock after a day's worth of fishing.

 Middlemen measuring the weight of each batch of fishes before transporting them to the markets.

Middlemen measuring the weight of each batch of fishes before transporting them to the markets.

 With the fish supplies from the river networks in Koh Kong affected by sand dredging activities, prices at open eateries in town such as this have also risen sharply too.

With the fish supplies from the river networks in Koh Kong affected by sand dredging activities, prices at open eateries in town such as this have also risen sharply too.

DSC03341.jpg
 From the late 80s to early 2000s, ships with foreign flags have trawled these waters searching for the soft, brown sand that lies at the bed of the Koh Sralau river. They dredged in great volume, day and night, relentlessly and when the sand they have been looking for ran out, they quickly moved elsewhere along the river and start the process again.
  Desolate.
 Before the ships came, the locals enjoyed a catch that averages out to 10 kilos of crabmeat in one day. But with all the dredging that has taken place, Kim Sam Bata's daily income was cut by half of what she used to earn. Whatever Kim's son-in-law brings back from the river has been steadily decreasing for years now and she has no more anger left in her to fight the injustice.
 Raksmey and Rorn, volunteers from local environmental NGO, Mother Nature, preparing the boat for a visit to Koh Poa, a fishing community just 15 minutes away from town.
 When the crab season ends after five months in May, most fishermen are bound to be left unemployed. Unaware of the impacts of sand dredging, these fishermen like Cheng, 47, were quick to jump onboard as navigators when offered USD 150 - a sum that is close to the estimated USD 200 they make in one fishing season. 
 One of the immediate impacts of big ships cruising along the river are broken fishing nets. It could cost them upwards of USD 100 and takes away valuable time from their fishing season each time the locals need to repair their nets.
 Badly entangled and unusable nets are often burned away.
 Koh Pao, 2017.
 Even when Meak Sok, 45, was successful at times chasing away the big ships, it was still not enough as the trail of oil pollution left behind in the water quickly took a toll on the local crab population.
 The tributary networks in the Koh Kong province can stretch up to 100m wide and go as shallow to 1m deep.
 Despite an imposed ban on sand dredging activities in the area, sand cleaning facilities like these still appears active along the banks of the river.
 There used to be over 700 families living in the village but with the lost of income, partly due to a decrease in daily catch, outward migration has been inevitable. Today, only less than 400 families remain. Koh Sralau, 2017.
 So much sand has been dredged away that some parts of the riverbed has deepen down to dangerous levels, turning the current beneath the surface extremely fast-flowing. Cheon Nary, 29 (L) and Leang Sithat, 26 (R), have recently witnessed two of their friends drowned in these unmarked deep ends of the river.
 Lim Lun, 57, said he was approached by a representative from the environment ministry who surveyed if the locals would allow sand dredging to take place again in the area. This came after a sizable force of 100 people was mounted up to chase away the trawling ships from their village vicinity.
 With the amount of sand taken away described as sufficient to build an entire football stadium, Lim Lun and his family expresses both regret and anger for everything that the locals have lost. This includes an entire mangrove island (50m x 70m) that was an important fishing site.
 The mangrove networks are important in crab fishing because it protects the mud crab population from fast flowing water. But with deepening river beds, these mangroves are now threatened too and often gets eroded away into the river, jeopardising the entire ecosystem.
 When Chao Sok Hom, 72, realised that her income was directly affected by the sand dredging ships, she joined many others to leave their home and work at the border cities across in Thailand.
 Chao Sok Teara, 26, have spent the past five years working on different plantations in Trad, Thailand. Coming back home is expensive due to the cost of legal paperwork each time she crosses back to Cambodia. The working conditions on these fields, she said, are harsh but earning money in her home village was much tougher.
 After better employment opportunities surface up abroad, the surge of Cambodian workers into Thai plantations have caused the authorities to increase the levy up to USD 415 per border crossing. That is almost more than twice what they make from fishing in a single season. Chao leaves behind two daughters and a father whom she gets to see only once per year.
 With a number of great fishing spots in the mangroves disappearing due to rising land erosion, local fishermen had no choice but to crowd in on the few remaining spots. This trend is contributing to an issue of overfishing in the area.
 One of the many sites with irregular deep riverbeds that have caused land erosion.
 For these villagers, living by the river has been the only constant across the generations.
 Fisherman Tet Kun, 46, is experiencing severe chest pains in the past several months but with his only source of income affected by the changed river morphology, he is worried that he could not afford the hospital bills. He is now resorting to only cheaper and less effective traditional pain killers.
 Tet's oldest son, Kun Panha, 19, wishes to be an IT engineer instead to help his father with the medical bills.
 Srun Sok, 37, a father of four girls, said he was once threatened by the local authorities for joining a campaign to stop sand dredging in the area. He fears that if he is taken to jail, there would be no one left to fend for his family.
 Srun's wife, Paat Pana, 35, chooses to live one day at a time and not worry about the future. With discrimination and accusations from the authorities as trouble makers, Paat said that her family is only thinking about survival.
 Sean Sopaat, 60, the head of Tameak village is one of the few brave ones to defy the authorities by not only joining the campaign to stop sand dredging activities but also offering his place for workshops and meetings to take place at.
 A stockpile of sand located near to a river bank in Andung Tek.
 Many female members of fishing communities have also started working in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) set up along the border with Thailand as a way to supplement the household income that has been affected by sand dredging activities.
 A truck full of SEZ workers returning home during the evening peak hour.
 Fishermen playing a local game of juggling with a feather shuttlecock after a day's worth of fishing.
 Middlemen measuring the weight of each batch of fishes before transporting them to the markets.
 With the fish supplies from the river networks in Koh Kong affected by sand dredging activities, prices at open eateries in town such as this have also risen sharply too.
DSC03341.jpg

From the late 80s to early 2000s, ships with foreign flags have trawled these waters searching for the soft, brown sand that lies at the bed of the Koh Sralau river. They dredged in great volume, day and night, relentlessly and when the sand they have been looking for ran out, they quickly moved elsewhere along the river and start the process again.

Desolate.

Before the ships came, the locals enjoyed a catch that averages out to 10 kilos of crabmeat in one day. But with all the dredging that has taken place, Kim Sam Bata's daily income was cut by half of what she used to earn. Whatever Kim's son-in-law brings back from the river has been steadily decreasing for years now and she has no more anger left in her to fight the injustice.

Raksmey and Rorn, volunteers from local environmental NGO, Mother Nature, preparing the boat for a visit to Koh Poa, a fishing community just 15 minutes away from town.

When the crab season ends after five months in May, most fishermen are bound to be left unemployed. Unaware of the impacts of sand dredging, these fishermen like Cheng, 47, were quick to jump onboard as navigators when offered USD 150 - a sum that is close to the estimated USD 200 they make in one fishing season. 

One of the immediate impacts of big ships cruising along the river are broken fishing nets. It could cost them upwards of USD 100 and takes away valuable time from their fishing season each time the locals need to repair their nets.

Badly entangled and unusable nets are often burned away.

Koh Pao, 2017.

Even when Meak Sok, 45, was successful at times chasing away the big ships, it was still not enough as the trail of oil pollution left behind in the water quickly took a toll on the local crab population.

The tributary networks in the Koh Kong province can stretch up to 100m wide and go as shallow to 1m deep.

Despite an imposed ban on sand dredging activities in the area, sand cleaning facilities like these still appears active along the banks of the river.

There used to be over 700 families living in the village but with the lost of income, partly due to a decrease in daily catch, outward migration has been inevitable. Today, only less than 400 families remain. Koh Sralau, 2017.

So much sand has been dredged away that some parts of the riverbed has deepen down to dangerous levels, turning the current beneath the surface extremely fast-flowing. Cheon Nary, 29 (L) and Leang Sithat, 26 (R), have recently witnessed two of their friends drowned in these unmarked deep ends of the river.

Lim Lun, 57, said he was approached by a representative from the environment ministry who surveyed if the locals would allow sand dredging to take place again in the area. This came after a sizable force of 100 people was mounted up to chase away the trawling ships from their village vicinity.

With the amount of sand taken away described as sufficient to build an entire football stadium, Lim Lun and his family expresses both regret and anger for everything that the locals have lost. This includes an entire mangrove island (50m x 70m) that was an important fishing site.

The mangrove networks are important in crab fishing because it protects the mud crab population from fast flowing water. But with deepening river beds, these mangroves are now threatened too and often gets eroded away into the river, jeopardising the entire ecosystem.

When Chao Sok Hom, 72, realised that her income was directly affected by the sand dredging ships, she joined many others to leave their home and work at the border cities across in Thailand.

Chao Sok Teara, 26, have spent the past five years working on different plantations in Trad, Thailand. Coming back home is expensive due to the cost of legal paperwork each time she crosses back to Cambodia. The working conditions on these fields, she said, are harsh but earning money in her home village was much tougher.

After better employment opportunities surface up abroad, the surge of Cambodian workers into Thai plantations have caused the authorities to increase the levy up to USD 415 per border crossing. That is almost more than twice what they make from fishing in a single season. Chao leaves behind two daughters and a father whom she gets to see only once per year.

With a number of great fishing spots in the mangroves disappearing due to rising land erosion, local fishermen had no choice but to crowd in on the few remaining spots. This trend is contributing to an issue of overfishing in the area.

One of the many sites with irregular deep riverbeds that have caused land erosion.

For these villagers, living by the river has been the only constant across the generations.

Fisherman Tet Kun, 46, is experiencing severe chest pains in the past several months but with his only source of income affected by the changed river morphology, he is worried that he could not afford the hospital bills. He is now resorting to only cheaper and less effective traditional pain killers.

Tet's oldest son, Kun Panha, 19, wishes to be an IT engineer instead to help his father with the medical bills.

Srun Sok, 37, a father of four girls, said he was once threatened by the local authorities for joining a campaign to stop sand dredging in the area. He fears that if he is taken to jail, there would be no one left to fend for his family.

Srun's wife, Paat Pana, 35, chooses to live one day at a time and not worry about the future. With discrimination and accusations from the authorities as trouble makers, Paat said that her family is only thinking about survival.

Sean Sopaat, 60, the head of Tameak village is one of the few brave ones to defy the authorities by not only joining the campaign to stop sand dredging activities but also offering his place for workshops and meetings to take place at.

A stockpile of sand located near to a river bank in Andung Tek.

Many female members of fishing communities have also started working in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) set up along the border with Thailand as a way to supplement the household income that has been affected by sand dredging activities.

A truck full of SEZ workers returning home during the evening peak hour.

Fishermen playing a local game of juggling with a feather shuttlecock after a day's worth of fishing.

Middlemen measuring the weight of each batch of fishes before transporting them to the markets.

With the fish supplies from the river networks in Koh Kong affected by sand dredging activities, prices at open eateries in town such as this have also risen sharply too.

show thumbnails