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Cambodian Sea
Tana, T.S. (2000). Cambodian Sea, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 569-578
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more

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  • Tana, T.S.

    Located in the northeastern part of the semi-enclosed Gulf of Thailand, the Cambodian Sea contains several diversified coastal ecosystems. The area is dominated by a wet monsoon (summer) and by a dry monsoon (winter), which alternately drive the oceanographic character and influence the area's marine habitats. The Cambodian Sea described in this chapter is that of Cambodia's Exclusive Economic Zone, which was officially claimed in January 1978. The Sea has an average depth of 50 m, and receives a number of freshwater rivers and streams originating from both the Elephant Chain and Cardamomes Mountains. These have greatly increased volumes during the rainy season and flow into large estuaries along the coastline. The estuarine systems and predominantly wet monsoon winds create rich and varied biological habitats in all the near shore waters. The inshore waters contain three major estuarine bays: Kompong Som is the largest, covering about 40% of the overall coastline, where upwelling occurs during the wet and early dry monsoons. Koh Kong bay, is dominated by the large river Dong Tong and forms a large estuary covered by mangrove forest and seagrass beds. The southeastern edge of the coastline includes Kampot bay which contains important seagrass habitats. Offshore the sea floor structure from 40 m deep is a rugged structure with numerous ridges 3-4 m high, some being elevated up to 10 m. Cambodian waters include 474 known fish species in 105 families, including 30 commercially important Mackerel, Scad, Anchovy and Snapper. These are abundant from September to January , while peak periods of fishing for Penaeus and Metapenaeus shrimps is May-August. Blue swimming crab, Squid and Cuttle fish are fairly abundant throughout the year. Commercially important Green mussel and oysters are found mainly in Koh Kong estuary , while the Blood cockle is important in Kompong Som Bay and Kampot Bay. Dugong, Sea turtle and Dolphin also seasonally inhabit the Cambodian Sea. In recent years there has been greatly increased development and settlement along the Cambodian coastline. Concerns focus on the environmental impact of logging in both watershed forests and mangroves, coastal watershed damming, widespread poaching and destructive fishing. Shrimp farming is expanding in the mangrove forest. Poor management generally has led to drastic degradation of many marine habitats. There is an absence both of natural resource policy and a lack of legislation for environmental protection and resource conservation, which has allowed poor enforcement of the natural habitats and resources. There is collusion among state bureaucracy and authority, which has allowed rampant and anarchic natural resource exploitation, which has led to serious deterioration of the natural environment and of its resources.

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