The DMCR inspection uncovered one restaurant with protected Parrotfish on the menu, and a second with protected reef shark.
The issue of protected marine life being sold in restaurants came to light when the ‘GO-Eco PHUKET ’ Facebook page posted photos of Parrotfish being sold in a restaurant on Dec 5.
On the same day, Director of the DMCR Phuket office Watcharin Thintalang and his team went to inspect the restaurants in the area and found two on Kata Rd – ‘Coconut Seafood’ and ‘Focus’ both with protected marine life fresh for sale.
At Coconut Seafood official found two Parrotfish longer than 50 centimetres for sale while at Focus they found a reef shark longer than 50cm.
The marine life were immediately removed.
The DMCR officials told both restaurant owners that by selling the said fish and sharks they were contravening the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s (NRE) Supporting and Maintenance Environment Act 1992.
Those caught catching or possessing such marine life can be fined up to B100,000, jailed up to one year, or both.
Mr Watcharin said, “Parrotfish are a protected marine animal, they reproduce, they don’t damage the corals or pollute the water, they also reduce atmospheric CO2, and protect some marine reserve areas.
“We must make sure we protect these marine animals.”
Officials presented both restaurant owners with a written warning which had to be signed confirming they would no longer sell protected marine life in their establishments.
On Dec 6, DMCR official told visited a further five restaurants in Karon – Food Market, On Lee, On Lee 1, Ying and Karon Seafood – and although no protected marine life was douind on sale at the time, the owners were presented and made to sign the same document confirming they would not feature protected marine life such as Parrotfish, Bowmouth guitarfish or Shark Ray on their menus.
On Nov 19, the DMCR Phuket office inspected a number of seafood restaurants in Karon after Zebra shark and Bull sharks were alleged to have been found being sold on a menu at restaurant in the popular tourist town.
The issue came to light when Facebook user ‘Sunshine Sketcher’ posted two pictures along with the message: “The first picture, Death at Karon, Zebra shark was sliced and shown, taken by a foreign tourist on Nov 10,” on his Facebook page on Nov 16. (See story here.)