“At this stage, the blacktip reef shark has not been classified as a protected animal,” Watcharin Rattanachoo, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Fisheries Office, told The Phuket News today
“I understand the photos may hurt people who love animals, but the fishing and selling of these sharks is not illegal in Thailand,” Mr Watcharin said.
Marine life expert Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat has campaigned for years for greater protection of blacktip reef sharks after a haul of the fish were found on sale at a fish market on Koh Lanta.
“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 in 2019.
“We must push for the protection of sharks, especially these two species [hammerhead and leopard sharks],” Dr Thon said.
“We need to learn more so that we know how many sharks are needed to preserve a amrine ecosystem,” Dr Thon noted.
“Sharks are important to the ecosystem and the food chain. Sharks are also important for tourism,” Dr Thon wrote.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is planning to list blacktip reef sharks as a protected marine species, after a TikTok clip of five men using a firearm to kill the sharks in Krabi came to light on Monday (June 14), reports the Bangkok Post.
The incident took place outside of the protected environmental zone, about 96 kilometres from Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park. The video clip showed a group of five men shooting at three blacktip reef sharks and two trevallies, before hauling them aboard a speedboat, named Ding Lor Zing.
Even though the sharks were not yet listed as a protected species, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa slammed the group’s behaviour, calling it an act of gratuitous violence.
“I’ve already instructed Jatuporn Burutphat, permanent secretary for environment, to work with all relevant agencies to review our policies to better protect our marine resources. Agencies in the areas have also been instructed to beef up surveillance and better educate local residents,” Mr Varawut said.
Sopon Thongdee, Director-General of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, said the department will be reviewing its list of protected animals and will register blacktip reef sharks as protected marine species.
“These sharks pose no threat to humans,” he said.
He has instructed Marine and Coastal Resources Office 10 to file a complaint with Muang Krabi Police against the men featured in the video for using a boat without permission, which is punishable by a B10,000 fine.