The news broke after a meeting in Phuket today (Nov 14) between Marine Department Director-General Withaya Yamoung and Warawut Thangsuk, the owner of PK Shipping and Agency Co Ltd, which is the current owner of the ship.
At the time the ship was seized by Navy personnel seven miles off Phuket on Sept 14, it was presented on its AIS transmitter as the Uthaiwan, but was previously sailed under the name Wisdom Sea Reefer.
At 102 metres long and 14m across, the Wisdom Sea Reefer was registered in 1977 and was last officially registered in Cameroon.
It was also declared as an illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing boat by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). (See story here.)
After the meeting in Phuket today, Marine Department chief Mr Wittaya told the press that that marine officials had already fined the ship owner for offenses “relating to people and ship”, reported the state-founded Thai News Agency (TNA). (see story here.)
The amounts of the fines were not disclosed.
“The legal process is already completed, so the Marine Department needed to discuss with the ship owner to guarantee that the ship will not be used to conduct illegal fishing again,” Mr Withaya said.
“From the meeting, we concluded that the ship will be destroyed. The owner of the ship Mr Warawut also agreed with it.
“However, before destroying the ship we must discuss with Third Area Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Center (Thai-MECC, which seized the ship) again,” he said.
“The ship owner said the ship will be taken to Chittagong, in Bangladesh. We will send some officers to make sure that the ship is destroyed,” Mr Withaya assured.
Ship owner Mr Warawut explained, “I bought the ship in Cambodia for B10 million, and I planned to have it broken apart and the salvaged parts sold at Chittagong, in Bangladesh.
“I ordered my employees to take the ship from Cambodia to an appointed area. The ship had to pass through Thai waters, but it was seized before reaching the appointed area,” he said.
“I did not know that the ship was blacklisted as an IUU vessel, and I had not intention of using the ship for fishing.
“It was our fault that we did not check carefully. Before this we had bought and sold 11 ships without any problems,” Mr Warawut said.
“It will take four to five days to take the boat to Chittagong, and one and a half months to have it broken apart,” he added.