Despite some progress, many migrant workers continue to be abused and exploited in Thailand’s fishing industry. I looked into it for UCANews.

Drying fish in Cambodia. Photo: Ate Hoekstra

It was in the late evening of Sept. 27 last year when Zeha Pourng set out to sea. The Cambodian migrant worker was all by himself and was given the task to attract fish with a small light boat to a fishing vessel of a Thai fishing company that cannot be named for legal reasons. Zeha had done the work before, but this evening he got caught up in a storm in the Gulf of Thailand.

What exactly happened to 28-year-old Zeha is still a mystery. Eight days after that stormy night, his boat was found near the island of Koh Samet. The fisherman’s body was never found.

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The landlocked country of Laos is facing environmental threats of destructive hydropower dams and illegal logging. My story for UCANews.

Fishing in the Mekong in Laos. Photo: Chrissusieking / Flickr

Attapeu, a province in the southeast of Laos, is not a place that draws much attention. But a recent illegal logging scheme, in which a convoy of 27 trucks tried to cross into Vietnam, shone a light on it.

With illegal logging being a major problem in the country for years, the scheme itself was far from unexpected. But the consequences were. First it resulted in the removal of Nam Viyaketh as the governor of Attapeu. Then in late November the new governor assured the public that the people involved will be prosecuted, a possible game-changer in a country where illegal logging often goes unpunished.

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Stuwdammen, illegale visserij, klimaatsverandering en vervuiling bedreigen de Mekong-rivier, de langste rivier van Zuidoost-Azië. Voor Trouw onderzocht ik ter plekke wat de gevolgen zijn.

De Mekong-rivier bij Kratie. Foto: Ate Hoekstra

De boot van Diep Ngoi glijdt over het snel stromende water van de Mekong-rivier. De Cambodjaanse schipper heeft de lawaaierige buitenboordmotor uitgezet en kijkt zoekend om zich heen. In de verte zijn vissers met een net in de weer. Vlakbij vaart een boot met toeristen. Ze hebben hun camera’s in de aanslag.

“Kijk, daar zijn ze! Links van de boot!” Ngoi (38) wijst naar een plek in de rivier. De kop en de rug van een grijskleurige dolfijn komen net boven het water uit. Het dier blaast een bel lucht omhoog, als ware het een reusachtige walvis, om vervolgens weer in de diepte te verdwijnen.

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Environmental issues threaten sustainability of Tonle Sap Lake which a million Cambodians depend on for their livelihoods. My story for UCANews.

The great Tonlé Sap Lake is under threat. Photo: Ate Hoekstra

It’s peacefully quiet on the shores of Sang Vor, a small village in Cambodia’s Kandal province. A soft breeze blows over the Tonle Sap Lake; the sunlight is harsh.

Nom Khim, a local fisherman, looks out over the lake and points towards a small boat anchored to the shore. It’s that kind of boat he uses every day to go out fishing, the 40-year-old Cambodian says. “The best time to go fishing is during the Water Festival, in November. During that time, I go out day and night. It is then when you catch the most fish.”

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