Connect with us


First Person: Saving Thailand’s sharks

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Brendon Sing, from South Africa, has been actively involved with shark research and conservation for more than 15 years. He has taken more than 5,000 dives, many with a range of shark species across the world.

Now, as one of the Directors of Shark Guardian, a United Kingdom-based charity for shark and marine conservation projects worldwide, he has been giving educational shark presentations to over 25,000 people a year, as well as conducting and assisting several citizen science projects for shark conservation worldwide.

PHUKET: The number of sharks sightings within the Thai waters of the Andaman Sea has greatly decreased in recent years. We have a moral obligation to protect sharks as they are one of the most important, advanced and amazing species of animals to have ever lived.

They are apex predators that have been in our oceans for over 400 million years. However, many shark species are now at risk of extinction due to human impact.

The Thai fishing industry has mostly targeted other fish species rather than sharks over the years. However, fish catch sizes and numbers are now dropping so much that fishermen have started targeting sharks for the shark product industry and taking greater risks by fishing inside national marine park boundaries.

The devastating decline comes from a combination of different issues, including overfishing, trawling, targeted shark finning, unregulated shark fishing, fishing in marine parks and coastal development, as well as natural issues, such as water temperatures rising

No matter what equipment used, overfishing of any species is a serious problem for the entire ecosystem. When enormous numbers of the sharks’ natural prey are removed from an area it forces them to migrate to new areas to find alternative food sources. However, some fishing equipment is much worse than others. In general, all types of trawlers used by fishermen are incredibly destructive and wasteful. This is particularly the case for sharks species that are either bottom dwellers or migratory.

As can be seen by the European Union’s concern with the fishing industry in Thailand, any unregulated fishing is problematic. We have the equipment and could leave entire regions without enough stock to repopulate. This is especially a problem for certain types of fish, such as sharks, that take a long time to reach a mature age and start reproducing. A number of regulations could be imposed that would have a positive impact on recouping the shark population in Thai waters.

Sharks should be landed with fins attached, to prevent wasteful shark finning; catch size regulations should be in place and enforced to prevent juvenile sharks from being landed; species that are protected through International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List or other means should not be landed; all sharks landed should be logged by species, size, sex, and catch location to allow continued monitoring of sustainable fishing practices.

One major impact on sharks that the general public doesn’t seem to be aware is coastal development. Run-off from developments causes sedimentation on coral reef sites, which ends up killing what is well-known as one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems in the world. The destruction of mangroves for developments also affects shark populations, as they are the nursery grounds for many species of shark.

The most horrific practice that is more than decimating the shark populations of the world though is shark finning. Many shark species are vulnerable and threatened by extinction due to sharks being targeted for their fins fueled by the shark fin trade. It is estimated that between 70-80 per cent of the 100 million sharks killed each year is for the shark fin trade.

Sharks need protection as they are more vulnerable than many other species of fish and take much longer to reproduce. Therefore, it is very important to educate the public about the importance of sharks and the role they play in the ecosystem.

We developed the Shark Guardian Thailand eShark project to provide data to the Thai Department of Fisheries (DoF) and IUCN in order to highlight falling shark populations or possible increases in areas where there is better enforcement of laws.

This project has been pushed throughout Thailand for two diving seasons and we have gathered almost 12,000 data entries. The data is so important when governments try to make and enforce laws. The project allows past data from scuba dives, snorkellers and beachgoers, as well as present data to be uploaded on to a global database. Everyone can take part in this research, that’s what makes it exciting.

The DoF has been using this data to form their national plan of action for sharks. Our ultimate goal would be a shark sanctuary throughout Thai waters – you have to aim big!


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forum
🔔 Subscribe to our daily newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Tourism9 mins ago

Tourism calls for Russia and India to be added to safe list

Economy1 hour ago

Bank of Thailand plans real-world test of digital currency in 2022

Hua Hin2 hours ago

Hua Hin calls for delay in reopening amid Covid-19 infections

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Chiang Mai2 hours ago

Chiang Mai Covid-19 infections swell ahead of reopening

Koh Samui3 hours ago

Thailand’s bars and beach parties remain strictly closed (cough)

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Covid-19 Sunday: Deaths fall to low of 56, provincial data

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Tourism5 hours ago

Ministry of Foreign Affairs sings praises of Thailand Pass

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

Covid-19 in prison: outbreaks from overcrowding now subsiding

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

Covid-19 deaths receding, but still here; 1 month old baby dies

Crime23 hours ago

Van packed with 39 illegal burmese workers stopped in Phichit

Vietnam24 hours ago

Vietnam to test reopening starting with Phu Quoc Island

World1 day ago

Chinese law to limit homework and tutoring pressure on kids

Bangkok1 day ago

Thai man takes grandfather hostage in Bangkok standoff

Thailand1 day ago

Covid-19 forces 70 private schools out of business, 100 to follow

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Covid-19 clusters prompt lockdown in 3 Korat villages

Thailand1 month ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism8 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11