Pattaya Cracks Down on Illegal Fishing in Dive Areas

Thailand continues to show its resolve to protect the marine environment in Pattaya. After years of over fishing and rampant pollution, the area is slowly coming back to life and officials seem intent to keeping it that way, as evidenced by today’s story in the Pattaya Mail newspaper .
Six fishing boats illegally trawling the shallow waters of Pattaya’s Far Islands were netted themselves by marine patrol officers for taking fish in bulk from protected areas popular with scuba divers.
Department of Marine and Coastal Resources officers patrolling near Koh Man Wichai Sept. 17 seized the Panitwaree, Panitwaree 7, Panit 2 and Panit 18 and arrested their two Thai captains and 16 Burmese crewmembers. Later that day authorities arrested the captain and crew of the Rungtaweesap 9 and Rungtaweesap 10 also using double trawling nets off Koh Pai.
All the vessels came out of Samut Prakan Sept. 15. The captains claimed they didn’t realize fishing trawlers were not allowed in the islands administered by the Royal Thai Navy and used daily by Pattaya dive shops.
Kritayot Chamnanchang, operations chief for Marine and Coastal Resources Ship 204, said the Ministry of Agriculture barred bag- and push-trawl fishing in the Far Islands from Sept. 1 to Feb. 28 each year after years of heavy fishing that nearly wiped out the fish population. Through conservation and the sinking of the HTMS Khram off Koh Pai in 2003, numbers have returned allowing divers to again enjoy fish watching.
The seasonal prohibition also extends to beam trawling, push nets, Chinese purse seines, anchovy purse seines, luring purse seines, King mackerel encirclement gill nets, bamboo steak traps and shrimp trawl bags of all kinds. Patrols are stepped up this time of year as poaching is prevalent.
Boat captains were sent to the inquiry officer at the Pattaya Police Station for legal processing. As for the alien workers, the captains stated that they all had work permits, a claim that immigration officers will investigate.
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