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No action taken against tourists photographed with starfish at Koh Racha Yai

PHUKET: An official from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) Region 6 has confirmed that no legal action will be taken against a group of tourists who were photographed holding a starfish during a snorkelling trip at Koh Racha Yai.

animals, environment, marine, transport,


Eakkapop Thongtub

Friday 11 August 2017, 04:30PM


Tour guide and conservationist Mr Khanchit Klingklip, also known as ‘Seaman Freeman’, sent photos of the tourists holding the starfish to the ‘Healthy Reefs Club’ LINE group today (Aug 11) along with the message:

Another tour group destroying resources. At about 11am on 11 August, today, Healthy Reefs Club has seen this offence at Lha Bay on the northeast of Koh Racha Yai, within a security zone.”

Mr Khanchit told The Phuket News, “There were about 8 to 10 tourists, believed to be Chinese, who had travelled to Koh Racha Yai by the Hantalay Marine 888 speedboat and were snorkeling at the end of the speedboat which was parked northeast of the island.

They caught a large, red-orange coloured starfish and then took it to the boat,” he said.

Director DMCR Region 6 Mr Suchart Rattanarueng confirmed that the incident had been reported.

The tourists had captured the starfish for photographs, then released it back to the sea,” said Mr Suchart.

Crew from the Hantalay Marine 888 speedboat were later warned and urged to strictly follow the regulations of the DMCR. As usual, with every boat that comes to one of the three bays of Racha Island, the guides must bring everyone from the boat to gather onshore and explain the rules before swimming,” he said.

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If they [tourists] listen to the instructions, it is unlikely that one will dare commit any wrongdoing as they would clearly be at fault. For this group, they may have rented a boat without a guide and may have gone swimming immediately without receiving instructions,” he added.

Every day the three bays of Racha Island have hundreds of boats visiting, this causes a problem where officials cannot look after all of the tourists, which creates situations like these,” he said.

Mr Suchart further added that each day officials catch a large number of offenders, but most of them need a simple warning.

Because sometimes they are not guilty of breaking the law, as there is no damage caused,” he said.

For example, in the past there have been many cases where the court did not order prosecutions due to weak evidence. These can be case studies to measure what is worthy of prosecution. In cases where damage or fault is clear, we will not refrain from following the law.

“However, from this incident many parties are able to note why the captain and staff of the boat did not warn the tourists as they know that this is illegal?” he said.

 

 

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Jor12 | 14 August 2017 - 14:00:46

chris007...The humans that drive boats can look after or kill themselves with gay abandon. The ecosystem is not afforded that privilege.  

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chris007 | 13 August 2017 - 05:45:11

This group of vigilantes calling themselves healthy reef club who are providing evidence for arrests of tourists  consequently being fined 100,000 for giving fish food should be as vigilant in providing photographic evidence of the multiple deaths of tourists as a result of illegal and unsafe water practices of daily boat tours. Both are important however there is less follow up on the final outcome of the penalties applied to the parties guilty of the deaths of tourists. There is an imparity of importance which sees the fish being given more rights under thai law.

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stevenl | 12 August 2017 - 14:41:18

"The tourists had captured the starfish for photographs, then released it back to the sea"
Doubtful with the tourist still wearing a life jacket, and nearly all others snorkelers there wearing these jackets. Much more likely their guide picked it up, I see this on an almost daily basis under water and every time correct them.

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Jor12 | 12 August 2017 - 11:52:00

LaLaLand ... what makes you think that rubbish in public places is caused by the majority of Thai's? 

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LaLaLand | 12 August 2017 - 08:46:17

Though it's great they are keeping an eye on tourists feeding fish and holding starfish, it sometimes seems a bit out of proportion. Yes they should be prosecuted if they do harmful actions but in all fairness so should the majority of thais. Surely it's more damaging to nature throwing tons of plastic bags, cups etc. than feeding fish illegally. Recently went to Layan beach in the afternoon (mostly a beach used by thais). In the sunset the beach looked like the toppings on a birthday cake as littered with plastic in all sizes and shapes. Not a square meter without plastic. Really sad to see...

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