The Song Saa Foundation and its Royal Government of Cambodia and Fauna & Flora International partners hosted HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco in the country’s incredible Koh Rong Archipelago.
In his official capacity as President of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco recently called into popular private island retreat Song Saa Private Island to witness first-hand the inspiring marine conservation work of both the Song Saa Foundation and its partners, the Royal Government of Cambodia and Fauna & Flora International.
The team of Song Saa Private Island has been involved in improving the region’s rich and abundant marine life since purchasing the island in 2005. As well as putting a stop to many of dangerous fishing practices and environmental mismanagement which threatened to devastate the Koh Rong Archipelago, the team – headed by Melita and Rory Hunter – went as far as to create Cambodia’s first-ever no-take marine reserve.
Established in 2006, the no-take marine reserve initially protected a small patch of water between Koh Ouen and Koh Bong, but has since stretched to cover an estimated 200 hectares – equating to an area 10 times larger than its predecessor. Yet, in a region which is increasingly under threat from overfishing and poorly planned coastal development there’s still much to be done to safeguard the region’s beleaguered fishing communities and marine life.
Indeed, the Song Saa Foundation – alongside Fauna & Flora International, Coral Cay Conservation and Royal Government of Cambodia are now working to further expand the existing marine reserve into the country’s first Marine Fisheries Management Area (MFMA) – a multiple use Marine Protected Area, designed to benefit local fishing communities, marine life and the responsible sustainable development of an area.
During his visit of the region, HSH Prince Albert and his delegation embarked on a boat trip through the Koh Rong Archipelago to get a better idea of the scale of the 400 km² proposed MFMA. After well as stopping at several key locations and meeting important members of the community, the group then moored at Song Saa Private Island, taking the opportunity to enjoy a delicious lunch and view the no-take marine reserve that triggered the plans for the MFMA.
Whilst the final decision on the MFMA is still pending, it is thought that the foundations’ efforts have been boosted considerably by the Prince’s timely visit. “Cambodia’s first Marine Fisheries Management Area means more than just protecting the 400 km² concerned by the operation. It’s a new way of addressing the fishing issue, namely understanding the age-old link that island people have held with the ocean,” explained HSH Prince Albert.
“It is bringing into existence a different economic model which generates hope, as it is based on respect and responsibility rather than on the unlimited predation of natural resources,” he added. “This initiative is proving the value of marine protected areas which enable us to preserve the ecosystems and promote the development of local populations.”
Dr Wayne McCallum, Executive Director of the Song Saa Foundation added, “Song Saa has been working since 2006 to support marine conservation in the archipelago. The fact that the MFMA has been proposed – and hopefully soon proclaimed – vindicates our belief that this environment is something special and merits fuller protection.”
It is hoped that upon ratification, the establishment of the Koh Rong Archipelago’s Marine Fisheries Management Area will underpin coastal livelihoods and serve as a model for future marine resource management initiatives in Cambodia. To find out more about this excellent proposal, head over to The Song Saa Foundation or the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
Alternatively, to see the inspirational work for yourself, why not book a stay on Song Saa Private Island with Vladi Island Travel? The private island travel specialists are offering a unique private island package with prices which start from approx. EUR 5,250 per person per week based on two people sharing the Song Saa Jungle Villa and including all transfers and flights from London. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org