Local fisherfolk in the southern province of Satun have blocked the Pak Bara Pier to stop people from using it in protest after being banned from fishing for a month due to overlapping rules from two government departments. The result of the closure has affected the tourism industry, especially on Lipe Island, which lost revenue of over 10 million baht.
The Department of Fisheries stated that any fishing boats with commercial fishing equipment are considered to be commercial enterprises and not local fisherfolk. They demanded that commercial fishing boats must operate in deep-sea areas and be prohibited from fishing near the coast.
Most local fishers have commercial fishing equipment on their boats but their boats are not large enough to operate in deep-sea zones. As a result, the government department allows them to fish near the coastal areas.
Recently, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation announced its territory near Tarutao National Park and Mu Ko Phetra National Park and banned fisherfolk in the national park areas.
This affected local fishers who were asked to pause their operations until the rules were clarified.
A month has passed and local fisherfolk have been starved of any income. Consequently, over 100 fishing boats docked close to Pak Bara Pier yesterday in protest. They urged the authorities to solve the issue as soon as possible.
One of the protestors, Wirat Chumkong, revealed to the media that he and other fishers would remain in the area until Saturday, March 4. He said…
“We are waiting for an explanation from the authorities. We will be here until March 4 to see where they will let us fish. I and my employees have suffered a lot from this issue. Some of my employees tried to find new jobs, but there was nothing available.”
Another protestor, Sombat Phatkong, said…
“We make a living in an honest way and always follow what the Fisheries Department has told us to do. We have small fishing boats and cannot go to the deep sea. We cannot bear the strong wind. There is no place for us to make a living.”
President of the Satun Tourism Business Association Samart Charoenrat gave an interview with Khaosod yesterday. He revealed that the protest has affected the tourism industry on Lipe Island.
Over 700 tourists were stranded at the pier before each business operator led them to speed boats at nearby piers. Some hotel workers had to pick up their clients at the beach instead of the pier.
Samart said he wanted the relevant departments to solve this issue urgently as he was worried that the incident would affect more travellers who would come during a long weekend from March 4 to March 6.
Samart added that several group tours had cancelled their trips to Koh Lipe after the pier closure. He said businesses in the area had lost over 10 million baht after one-day closure.
According to a report on MGR Online, the protestors had already opened the space for ferries and speed boats to dock at the Pak Bara Pier. However, many business operators were worried about the tourists’ safety and avoided docking at the pier.
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