A school of blacktip reef sharks returning to the waters of Maya Bay was noted as among the first signs that the bay’s marine ecosystem was starting to recover since its closure after years of overtourism, which saw tens of thousands of tourists visiting the bay each year. (See story here.)
“Blacktip reef sharks and many other sharks are not protected animals (in Thailand). I've tried to push for this many times. I hope we can progress, especially for hammerhead sharks and leopard sharks, whose numbers are rapidly falling,” Dr Thon said in a Facebook post yesterday (Aug 21).
Dr Thon pointed out that the waters off Krabi are an environmental protection area where it is forbidden to catch sharks less than 50 centimeters long.
However, he added that as sharks are not a protected species in Thailand, catching and selling sharks larger than this is not illegal.
“We must push for the protection of sharks, especially these two species (hammerhead and leopard sharks),” Dr Thon said.
“We must have the 50cm rule removed and make it illegal to catch sharks of all sizes in the protected area,” he added.
Dr Thon also called for greater research on sharks, especially in the Krabi area and in the protected waters off the mainland.
“We need to learn more so that we know how many sharks are needed” Dr Thon noted.
“Sharks are important to the ecosystem and the food chain. Sharks are also important for tourism, and Krabi is the most reported source of blacktip reef sharks in Thailand,” Dr Thon wrote.