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Life

Cambodia volunteers step up battle against illegal fishing

'Annihilation trawling' threatens once-bountiful marine environment

Paul Ferber, a Briton, has gained praise from Cambodian authorities and international conservationists for his work to save the country's marine life. (Photo by Denis D. Gray)

SEH ISLAND, Cambodia -- It is late afternoon when Paul Ferber scans the horizon and detects his number one enemy -- approaching Vietnamese seine trawlers. He knows that their kilometers long, fine mesh, bottom-dragging nets will in just one or two passes sweep away years of conservation efforts. "Dolphins, turtles, tiny sea creatures, seagrass -- there's no way anything can escape,'' he says.

Operating from a remote island off the Cambodian coast, Ferber sends up a drone to track the intruders and urgently alerts a network of informants and officials. A Cambodian patrol, armed with AK-47 assault rifles, rushes out to sea under cover of darkness. The three trawlers are driven back into Vietnamese waters.

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