“In the past, the tuna-related industry of Phuket Province generated income in the billions of baht per year, but when strict fishing laws were imposed on boats, the number of tuna that came in started declining,” Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panaphong explained at a meeting at the Phuket Agricultural and Cooperatives Office yesterday (Mar 3).
Tuna is one of seven industries targetted for development under Phuket’s ‘GEMMSST’ economic policy to broaden the island’s economic base to be less dependent on tourism.
‘GEMMSST’ encompasses the fields of Gastronomy, Education, Medical & Wellness, Marina Hub, Sports & Events, Smart City and Tuna and aims for Phuket to become “hubs” for those industries within the Asean region.
At the meeting yesterday, also attended by Watcharin Rattanachoo, Chief of the Phuket Fisheries Office, Vice Governor Pichet said that the Phuket provincial government had appointed a working group to drive the Phuket Strategic Development “to formulate a development plan to drive the development strategy of Phuket concrete in order to promote the province’s economy and increase economic value.”
“Due to the fact that Thailand does not have tuna fishing boats, foreign boats are proficient in this area and there are many relevant laws that have resulted in losing the opportunity to compete in the industry,” he said.
“We want to solve the problem of fishermen who still do not know about tuna or other details. and practice skills, especially from those who have knowledge or expertise,” he said.
“As for the second issue [regarding strict fishing laws that have inhibited the Phuket fishing fleet in catching tuna], there is an action to discuss an amendment to the law on the ships used so these fishing boats will be able to be used,” he said.
“All departments, both at the provincial and central [national] levels, must have a joint discussion to find a way to develop and drive the project in order to promote innovation in agricultural product processing and to promote Phuket as a centre for trading and exporting tuna in Asean,” he said.