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Navy ponders easing coastal fishing ban off Phuket

PHUKET: The Third Area Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Centre (MECC), operating under the command of the Royal Thai Navy, is considering allowing large boats to fish in specified coastal areas as part of a reprieve on the ban on coastal fishing by large vessels.

military, marine, environment, natural-resources, economics,

The Phuket News

Tuesday 7 June 2016, 01:33PM

The ban, which came into force in April, restricts fishing vessels weighing 10 or more gross tonnes from operating within three nautical miles from the coast and 1.5nm from islands. The restriction is part of government measures aimed at curbing overfishing as well as clamping down on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices.

Vice Admiral Sayan Prasongsomrit, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) Third Area Command, announced the news at a meeting with fisheries officials and operators at the RTN’s Third Area Command naval base at Cape Panwa, on Phuket’s east coast, yesterday (June 6).

Present at the meeting were Phuket Vice Governor Chokdee Amornwat, as well as representatives from fisheries associations and fisheries operators from Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun provinces, all along the Andaman coast.

“Since the announcement of the ban, the Third Area MECC has received many complaints from fisheries operators and local fishermen, especially those linked to commercial fishing, saying that their livelihoods have been affected by this new rule,” V/Adm Sayan said.

“Most vessels used for day fishing of anchovies and fishing for crabs are unable to enter the protected areas and for the past months the centre has been trying to solve this problems in each (Andaman) province,” he added.

Of note, some 300 villagers in Phang Nga province gathered in protest at Laem Mai Pier on Koh Yao Yai last month, calling for the government to reconsider the ban. (See story here.)

“Today, we have listened to all problems that fishermen have encountered arising from the ban and we will find a solution together,” V/Adm Sayan said yesterday.

“We have to solve each issue locally and the centre will take this into consideration in deciding on any change in the policy.”

“However, prior to this meeting, we had already met with other officials and members from the private sector and the fishing industry who have been upholding this ban – and they all voted for officials to set special zones to allow fishing within restricted areas within the three-mile coastal ban,” V/Adm Sayan said.

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V/Adm Sayan, however, did not clarify whether the coastal ban on fishing by large vessels under review was the same annual ban implemented along the Andaman coast from April 1 to June 30 each year to allow fish, particularly tuna and mackerel, to repopulate.

Pitsanu Na-Anan, Chief Phuket Fishery Department, in March explained to The Phuket News, “The Department of Fisheries announces a ban fishing along the Andaman coast from April 1 to June 30 each year in order to allow fish to spawn and propagate.

“Under this ban, all kinds of trawlers are banned from fishing in Phang Nga Bay, from Cape Panwa to Trang,” he said.

However, fishing for anchovies, the mainstay of fish sauce products, remains allowed from sunrise to sunset, Mr Pitsanu said.

“This exception is for anchovies only, and even then allows fishing for anchovies only during the daytime,” he said.

Mr Pitsanu noted that the annual ban has no effect on seafood prices.

“This ban happens every year, and has no effect on seafood prices because almost all of the fish and other seafood caught by the commercial fleet are caught outside the protected area.

Department of Fishery surveys show that before the annual enforcement of the three-month ban, the catches landed average 276kg per hour, but after the ban climbs to 722kg per hour, reported Thai PBS earlier this year. (See story here.)



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Joe12 | 09 June 2016 - 20:45:38

Consultation with recommendations to determine optimum fishing effort in specific fishing grounds and control the effort, seems very reasonable. Excellent effort by the MECC.

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jogi | 08 June 2016 - 12:11:51

the whole fishing industry, not only  the Thai fishermen is threatening  the resources of Thai waters. lifting existing ban's is helping the whole fishing industry and most probably  will line the pocket's of the one's who have the power to lift the ban. the beloved PM of the land of smile's will try to sell his smile (grin) again to the EU, but Brussels know how to handle this

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Richard Vickers | 07 June 2016 - 19:40:51

Well sure, this makes  sense...  Make your decisions based on the whining fishermen that have helped to get Thailand in hot water over their poorly regulated fishing practices... and lift a ban that is implemented every year.  Forget using projections or analyses of the health of the ocean... just pander to the whiners.  I feel bad for Thai resources that continue to be mismanaged.

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Belzybob | 07 June 2016 - 18:12:00

Seems an obvious question, but wouldn't you expect the complaints to come from commercial fishermen? There cannot be conservation without it affecting the interests of some.

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