Connect with us

Opinion

Opinion: Tourism’s impact on Phuket’s sea gypsies

Published

 on 

Nirund Yangpan, a fisherman by profession and father of four sons, was born and raised in Rawai’s sea gypsy community. His family has been fishing for generations, but times have changed and now he fears the worst.

Here, he talks about how tourism and new fishing regulations have impacted their traditional way of life, making it harder to earn a livelihood.

PHUKET: Phuket’s growing tourism industry is a leading cause of changes in my community’s way of life. In the past, we only fished to feed our families and traded the extra fish we caught for uncooked rice. That’s the way it’s been done since I was a boy. My family has been fishing for generations, but times have changed and now I fear the worst.

The changes started when people in neighboring areas began to visit Rawai for fresh fish. When a seafood restaurant, named ‘Mook Dee’ opened up, it increased the number of visitors to the area, and encouraged more businesses to set up. This changed the nature of the community, from a small, local area to a much-frequented tourist district.

Another factor impacting our business is the drastic change in zoning laws and fishing regulations, which limited the number of fish we could catch.

In order to attract tourists, additional fish markets in Rawai have opened, putting a burden on fishermen such as myself.

The markets are flooded with new fish vendors, who wish to capitalize on the demand. Sometimes the fish they are selling isn’t even local, but imported from elsewhere and sold in local markets. Due to the increased competition and zoning laws, we cannot use traditional methods of fishing with spears and bamboo handles in shallow waters. We have been forced into deeper waters, and have had to buy boats and better equipment.

After marine national parks were introduced, fishermen in my community were arrested for fishing illegally. A number of them had to sell their boats in order to fulfill the legal obligations and fines that followed. Others simply left the profession behind.

I would like to see Phuket’s tourism grow side-by-side with the traditions of my people. Tourists would also like to see the way of life that sea gypsies have had for generations, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) should make an effort to preserve and celebrate our culture.

We have to adjust our way of life to match the changes around us, but I don’t want to see our traditions – which we have carried on for hundreds of years – disappear completely, simply because tourism is bringing more income to the island.

— Chutharat Plerin

 

Get more from The Thaiger

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:

Thailand9 hours ago

Woman goes bananas after children steal her fruit and sues them for 24,000 baht

China9 hours ago

China says Covid has weakened as it announces loosening of strict policies

Thailand10 hours ago

Dog carries baby’s corpse out of a forest in eastern Thailand

Sponsored1 day ago

Top 5 Backlink Agencies in Bangkok for Your Business

Events10 hours ago

Travis Scott to headline Rolling Loud Thailand festival

Thailand10 hours ago

9 year old boy rescued after falling into 2-metre deep well

Thailand10 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Sexy Thai model exposed as an identity thief and transwoman

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
South10 hours ago

Whale washes up on beach in South Thailand

Transport11 hours ago

Last jumbo – the last Boeing 747 leaves the gate

Weather11 hours ago

Bangkok could hit lows of 18°C next week

Thailand11 hours ago

Geminids meteor shower predicted to hit Thailand on December 14 

Crime11 hours ago

Kuwaiti overstayer busted in Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand

Thailand12 hours ago

What next for Bali as Indonesia bans sex?

Thailand12 hours ago

Jailed politician erects billboard to wish voters Happy New Year

Thailand12 hours ago

Beastly reptile crocs the world of small village in southern Thailand

Pattaya12 hours ago

Pattaya officials continue to struggle with homeless problem

Thailand1 year ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Tourism2 years ago

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

Phuket2 years ago

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

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

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

Tourism2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Thailand2 years ago

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

Trending