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Crew of salvaged Phuket fishing boat elude charges for catching baby rays

PHUKET: The captain, crew and operator of a sunken Phuket fishing boat that was salvaged off Racha Noi Island last month will not face charges for a haul of baby rays and guitarfish found on the sea bed where the wreck came to rest.

By The Phuket News

Friday 8 February 2019, 11:27AM

The Aor Janjira fishing boat sank in heavy seas off Koh Racha Noi on Jan 18. The boat was recovered on Jan 25.

“When the Aor Janjira was being salvaged, the divers found guitarfish and stingrays all over the sea bed,” Nares Choopueng of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) told The Phuket News this morning.

“The owner was questioned yesterday (Feb 7),” he confirmed.

However, Mr Nares added, “We cannot press any charges for these fish as we cannot prove that they were caught in a protected conservation area or national park.”

“We have been told that these fish were dropped by a local longtail fishing boat, We are looking for that boat now,” he said.

The operator of the Aor Janjira, which Mr Nares declined to name, will face charges for damaging corals that the wreck landed on.

“Because the fishing boat damaged about five square metres of corals, the owner will be fined for this. We are preparing the documents for police to press formal charges today (Feb 8),” Mr Nares said.

The alarm of the haul strewn across the sea floor around the wreck was first raised by local marine conservation group Go Eco Phuket.

“These fish are still baby fish and were still trapped in fishing nets,” explained Go Eco Phuket Secretary Ittiput Schadt.

Mr Ittiput expressed his concern for the dwindling number of rays and guitarfish being found in Thai waters.

“These two kinds of fishes are becoming increasingly rare. Their numbers are diminishing and are now rarely seen around Phuket.

“They can seen around the Similan islands or Losin Island in Pattani province, but not Phuket,” he said.



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