The call follows photos of a haul of blacktip reef sharks at the Phuket Fishing Port circulating on social media overnight.
Mr Watcharin already confirmed to The Phuket News yesterday that the fishing of blacktip reef sharks in non-protected areas, although not liked by many people, is not illegal.
His repeated call for understanding among the public today follows the photos of the blacktip reef sharks in baskets at Phuket’s Fishing Port being posted on the Facebook page of well-known Thai marine conservationist and marine animal rights leader Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat, Deputy Dean for Special Affairs at the Faculty of Fisheries of Kasetsart University.
There is currently no law stating that the fishing and distribution of blacktip sharks is an offense if the regulated fishing equipment is used, Mr Watcharin said.
He also explained that blacktip reef sharks are often caught as by-catch.
“When smaller fishing vessels [under 10 tonnes gross] aim to catch grouper and other local fish, some blacktip sharks tend to be caught sometimes when they come to feed and gather around the shoreline rocks,” Mr Watcharin said.
“Depending on the time [of the year] the sharks move into the fishermen’s fishing area. This is usual during the rainy season from around January to early June,” he added.
“Therefore, from the news above, it is not considered a violation of the law if fishing in the area is not prohibited and the correct equipment is used,” Mr Watcharin said.
Mr Watcharin pointed out efforts by the Phuket Fisheries offices in the past to prevent fishing in protected areas and the illegal fishing of specific species, especially whale sharks.
“But in the news such as the blacktip reef shark, the law does not make it an offense. We must also be fair to fishermen,” he said.