The majority of the Kingdom of Cambodia’s population live along the country’s main waterway – the Mekong River. The river is a key source of food, with a proportion of caught fish being exported. The Mekong River is relied upon for transporting people and goods as well as to supplement other forms of transport such as roads. Tourism and international trade, important contributors to Cambodia’s economy, also rely on the river. These include employment opportunities in the maritime sector, such as seafaring and port and terminal operations.
More recently, oil deposits were found in Cambodia’s territorial waters and, if developed, these could provide another source of revenue.
Ports Of Cambodia
There are two main ports in Cambodia, the Autonomous Port of Sihanoukville and the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port along the Mekong River. These are also ferry terminals and jetties which service the small boats and ferries on the river.
Flag / Port State Responsibilities
The exercise of its flag / port state responsibilities by the Merchant Marine Department (MMD) has, to-date, been limited.
The Office of Ship Inspection (OSI), which is under the MMD, has the responsibility of inspecting foreign flagged ships when they dock at Cambodian ports. The MMD considers developing a port state unit and training port state control officers as the pre-conditions to membership with the Tokyo MOU.
In August 2016, Cambodia halted ship registration for ships engaged in international voyages due to the lack of a proper mechanism, including national legislation, to manage ships flying the Cambodian Flag. Therefore, Cambodia’s international trade is mostly carried by foreign-flagged ships.
Currently, in addition to the small boats that traverse along the Mekong River, Cambodia has 437 Cargo ships, 5 tanks and 7 fishing vessels with a total of 1,108,298 gross tonnage which are engaged in international voyages.
Laws & Regulations
The legal framework for implementing IMO conventions dealing with marine environment protection has been incorporated in Cambodia’s Draft Maritime Law, which is currently awaiting promulgation. The Draft Maritime Law will also, when adopted, give full effect to all IMO Instruments to which Cambodia is a party.
Concerns of illegal fishing and over-fishing are prevalent in the country, due to a recent decline in fishing stocks, while there is also a growing concern about the destruction of mangrove swamps, which affects the natural ecological balance of the environment.
A National Environmental Action Plan has been developed by the Ministry of Environment to protect the marine environment from land-sourced pollutants and the MMD is in the process of developing the corresponding policies. Cambodia has therefore expressed the desire to develop a national maritime transport policy. To find out more about the IMO and National Maritime Transport Policy, click here.
International / Regional / Sub-Regional Memberships / Co-operations
- International Maritime Organization (IMO) – Member
- Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Member
- ASEAN Maritime Transport Working Group (MTWG) – Member
- Mekong River Commission
Cambodia is currently pursuing cooperative arrangements with Thailand and Vietnam.
IMO Conventions and Protocols
- CLC Convention 1969
- CLC Protocol 1992
- COLREG Convention 1972
- FUND Protocol 1992
- IMO Convention 1948
- LOAD LINES Convention 1966
- LOAD LINES Protocol 1988
- MARPOL Annex I – V 1973/78 (Annexes I, II and V were ratified as a result of the IMO-NORAD Project and are targeted instruments under the MEPSEAS Project.)
- SOLAS Convention 1974
- SOLAS Protocol 1988
- STCW Convention 1978
- SUA Convention 1988
- SUA Protocol 1988
- TONNAGE Convention 1969