Indonesian 'haze' drives fishing fleets to port
Illegal burning of forests in Indonesia, which blankets southern Thailand in a thick haze every year, has this year driven fishing fleets back to port because of dangerously reduced visibility at sea, according to a report released on Monday (June 2). The opaque air conditions extend well into the Gulf of Thailand.
Tuesday 3 July 2012, 03:12PM
Provinces affected by the smoke so far include Satun on the Andaman coast and Narathiwat, Pattani and Songkhla on the Gulf of Thailand – the latter home to the area’s largest fishing fleet.
“Smoke is so thick in the gulf, fishing boats both large and small cannot continue at sea, [their captains] being unable to see into the distance, with the result that hundreds have already returned to Songkhla fishing ports and more continue to arrive,” Siang Tai quoted a source as saying.
“We expect they must cease operations for one or two days till visibility improves.”
Songkhla’s large fish processing and distribution industries have yet to be affected, however, and reports are that deliveries currently remain normal because boats returning have their holds sufficiently filled with fish.
Reports add that the number of “hot-spots” in Sumatra – places where fires are burning – has declined from a high of 202 several days ago to 107 on Sunday. Strong southwest monsoon winds, however, are steadily blowing smoke across the Andaman Sea, which accounts for the conditions.
Officials said that despite the thick haze, people’s health is not endangered as “the 24-hour average of small particles in the air is no larger than 10 microns.”