Officials from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMRC) Phuket office, led by Director Suchat Rattanaruangsri and fellow Phuket DMRC officer Nared Choophueng, arrived at Racha Yai Island at 2pm yesterday (Jan 24) after being notified that a man was catching the fish at Plab Pla Beach.
The man, Chinese national Huang Yongjia, 35, had two baby Parrotfish in a plastic bottle.
Mr Huang was brought back to Phuket and taken to Chalong Police Station, where Lt Sakkarin Sangjaroen charged him with illegally removing marine life from coral reef areas.
“Part of the problem is the guides who do not warn tourists. Most tourists do not know that it is illegal to catch marine life,” Mr Suchat said.
“We are trying to inform the guides of this problem, but the Phuket Tourism and Sports Office also needs to do something about these guides,” he added.
The DMRC and other marine officials earlier this month launched a series of counter-measures to prevent further coral damage by tourists and tour operators at Racha Yai after slew of incidents raised the alarm of how much damage was being done by visitors.
Among the action taken, in line with “demands” from local conservation groups, was for officials to have police on site to enforce marine conservation laws and to press charges against offenders.
Other measures included the installation of more mooring buoys to prevent tour boats from dropping anchors on reefs and to put increasing pressure on tour guides to responsibly educate tourists in their tour groups about local environmental laws and the moral responsibility of preserving the environment. (See story here.)