Fishermen protest at threat
PHUKET: About 20 local fishermen called for help from Phuket authorities today, claiming they had been threatened and told they could not use a beachfront area in Chalong to carry out boat repairs.
Wednesday 7 September 2011, 11:49AM
Phuket Marine Office chief Bhurit Theerakulpisutand and Chalong OrBorTor officials today met with the fishermen at the disputed area, which is on empty land next to the Pa Lai Seafood restaurant.
According to the fishermen, two unknown men claiming to represent the owner of the empty land had forbidden the fishermen to use the beachfront, saying that the boundaries of the land extended beyond the beach and into the sea.
Some of the fishermen claimed that the pair had made threats and warned that they had a gun.
“We’ve been using the beachfront area for repairing our boats for many generations. The beach is supposed to be public property, not privately owned,” said Jirapat Bhumi, a representative of local fishermen.
“This 300-metre stretch of beach is the only remaining area where we can carry on our traditional way of life,” said Mr Jirapat.
With mangrove trees on the disputed land and a Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (MCR) marker located 50 metres inland form the sea line, Mr Bhurit said they would have to further check the land boundaries before a decision is reached on any entitlements to use the land.
However, he said that it would be impossible for a private individual to claim any ownership of the sea. All beaches in Thailand are public.
Chalong OrBorTor officer Wuttipong Promtawee said the fishermen should be allowed to continue using the beach area until it is proven that a private individual owns a title deed to the land in question.