Chinese tourist Zhou Hongzhi, from Sichuan, was arrested for feeding fish in a protected area at Koh Khai Nok last week, just one day after the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) announced a crackdown on environmental laws to protect the marine eco-system in the area. (See story here.)
The Phuket Provincial Court handed down the fine to Mr Zhao last Friday (May 27), said Suchart Rattanareangsri, Director of the DMCR’s Conservation Division.
“The judge actually handed down a fine of B2,000 baht, but it was reduced to B1,000 because the Mr Zhaou pleaded guilty,” Mr Suchart told The Phuket News.
Mr Zhou flew back to China the next day, he added.
The fine handed down was negligible compared with the full force of the law, Mr Suchart noted. “The maximum penalty for behaviour that damages the environment is up to one year in prison, a fine of up to B100,000 or both,” he warned.
“Next, the tour company that Mr Zhou was with will be reported to the Department of Tourism’s Phuket Office of the Bureau of Tourism Business and Guide Registration next week,” Mr Suchart said.
An investigation by Koh Yao Police found the tour guide leading Mr Zhou’s tour not accountable for breaking any laws, he added.
“But the tour guide will also be reported to the Guide Registration office, which will consider whether any action should be taken,” Mr Suchart said.
The Bureau of Tourism Business and Guide Registration issues businesses licences for all businesses operating in the tourism industry and for all tour guides operating in Phuket, and has the power the revoke any such “tourism business license” and tour guide licences.