The operators of the IUU were arrested seven months ago and the company that owns the ships requested that the Department of Fisheries remove the tuna as it could not afford to store the cargo any longer.
Phuket Fisheries officials brought in workers and a crane truck to remove the monster haul of 2,700 tonnes of tuna from the two fishing boats Mook Andaman 081 and Mook Andaman 028, which were captured by the Royal Thai Navy on January 30 for fishing illegally in Thai waters.
The two vessels, which failed to report to one of Phuket’s six Port-In, Port-Out (PIPO) centres, were initially tracked to about 700 nautical miles from Phuket before their signals were lost, prompting the Royal Thai Navy to send out sea and air patrols.
The two ships were finally located about 75 nautical miles west of Phuket, where they were apprehended and escorted back to the Phuket Deep Sea Port, arriving at 6pm on Jan 30. (See story here.)
One Phuket Fisheries official explained that his office had received the order to remove the seized tuna after Thanongsak Rasawong, Managing Director of Siamtuna Fisheries, which owns the two boats, requested the Department of Fisheries to take control of all seized items on the two fishing boats.
“Mr Thanongsak said that his company was under distress after the arrests and had accumulated large expenses due to the need to keep the boats’ engines, and coolers, running in order to preserve the 278,000 kilograms of tuna stowed aboard,” the official said.
“Keeping the boats’ engines running was costing the company approximately B50,000 per day, or more than B11,070,000 in total since the catch was seized. They said they can no longer continue to bear the costs so they had to shut the engines down on Sunday, Aug 28.
“It will take two to three days to remove all tuna from these boats. Although boats now have no power, the temperature inside was at -30º Celsius, so tuna is still okay, but we have to remove it quickly. Officials will transfer all the seized tuna to Nuchit Freezer at the fishing pier in Rassada and the Department of the Fisheries will take over the expense of freezing them,” he concluded.