The news was announced by Rear Admiral Sompong Nakthong, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, at Rassada Pier, where the boats and Indonesian fishermen were brought ashore, yesterday (Jan 28).
Joining R/Adm Sompong was R/Adm Tinakorn Kanchanatemi of the Third Area Command, Pol Lt Col Jerayut Niyomdej of the Phuket Marine Police, Nachapong Pranit of the Phuket Marine Office, and Pairote Kongsuwankhiri of the Phuket Fisheries Checkpoint.
The Indonesian boats were intercepted by the HTMA Klaeng on patrol some 38.5 nautical miles southwest of Phuket on Thursday (Jan 27).
Armed Navy personnel boarded the two boats about 5pm. They searched the vessels and placed the crews under arrest. The crew were also tested for COVID-19 before being brought back to Phuket.
The HTMS Klaeng was conducting a routine patrol as part of the operations conducted by the Third Area Command’s Maritime Enforcement Coordination Centre (THAI-MECC Area 3), R/Adm Sompong explained.
Also present at the event to explain the arrests to the press yesterday was Capt Pichet Songtan, Director of the Information Division of THAI-MECC Area 3’s Office of Operations.
The first boat board was the Sinarmakmur 05. Painted green, the boat is 4.6 meters wide, 14.5m long and weighs 25 tons gross. There were 14 crew members on board, including one who is 13 years old, R/Adm Sompong explained.
The boat uses a seine fishing net and a half-tonne of catch was found on board, he said.
The second boat was the KM.Bahagia 02, Painted white with an orange wheelhouse, the boat is 3.2m wide, 13.05m long, and has a crew of five, R/Adm Sonping continued.
The boat operated as a generator support boat for the Sinarmakmur 05, he said.
R/Adm Tinakorn explained that the Third Area Command had been receiving continual reports from Thai fishing vessels of boats from Indonesia fishing illegally in Thai waters off in Phuket and Phang Nga.
“Some of the equipment they use to lure or catch fish destroys the environment. Other offences include catching protected species of aquatic animals, causing economic damage to the country and causing damage to the Thai fishing industry,” he said.
“No such offences had been detected, until yesterday evening (Jan. 27),” he said.
The 19 Indonesians arrested will be handed over to the Chalong Police for legal proceedings, he added.
STILL NO ILLEGAL WORKERS AT HOME
Meanwhile, also at Rassada Pier yesterday afternoon, it was announced that checks on four Thai fishing boats operating out of Phuket had successfully confirmed there were no illegal migrant workers on board, and no evidence of human trafficking.
The news was announced by Phuket Fisheries Chief Watcharin Rattanachu, who explained that the checks, which are supposed to be continual and random, involved a multi-agency effort
Involved in the checks on the four boats, not named in official reports, were officers from the Department of Labour Welfare and Protection, Marine Police, Employment Office, Phuket Social Development and Human Security Office, Phuket Immigration Police, Phuket Regional Harbor Office, Phuket Provincial Public Health Office, and Provincial Police Region 8 and even the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor), Mr Watcharin said.
On board the four boats inspected were 112 workers, comprising 17 Thais, 97 Myanmar nationals and one Cambodian.
“The operation did not find any workers under the age of 18 and no forced labor. By the results of random inspections and interviews, we did not find any illegal acts or behaviours that constitute human trafficking,” he said.
“The workers come to work voluntarily without any forced labour measures, and the labour inspections on the fishing boats are in accordance with the action plan of the Phuket Provincial Fisheries Office that integrates with agencies involved in labour inspections in marine fisheries to prevent illegal activities,” he added.