The Fearless Eco-Vigilante of Cambodia’s Troubled Waters
The government can’t—or won’t—stop the illegal fishing devastating Kep Bay’s marine ecosystem, so one unstoppable British expat risks life and limb to do it himself.
Photos by Charlotte Pert
Paul Ferber and his deckhand Puppet stand wide-legged at the bow of their charging vessel. A lopsided half-moon brightens the night, reflected in a shimmering pyramid of light upon the bay. The pair are silhouettes until Puppet flashes on a search lamp and points it ahead. Revealed in the beam, like an apparition, a cracked and peeling fishing boat appears out of the darkness. Its smoky engine pops and bangs, a deep, desperate rattle, the sounds like quick-burst gunshots, as it begins fleeing. Puppet struggles to keep the search lamp steady as they chase after it, illuminating leaping silvery fish in its quivering beam.
“Grab the net!” roars Ferber as they near the vessel. The fleeing boat has become fully consumed in its own smoke, looking less like a watercraft now and more like a storm cloud.
Puppet reaches under the bow and extracts a long, hooked pole. He hands it to Ferber as they near the vessel’s stern, where the trawling net rests.
Ferber dives from the b…
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