2 Phuket restaurants busted with protected marine life

PHOTO: Protected marine creatures were found at two floating restaurants. (via DMCR)

In Phuket, two floating restaurants have been busted possessing protected marine life in violation of environmental laws. The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) inspected floating restaurants in Phuket on Friday to check whether they had protected marine life and found a stash. Social media posts shared the findings online.

The DMCR inspection found that both restaurants had ornamental fish that are illegal to catch or possess. One of the unnamed floating restaurants had 11 captured butterflyfish, lionfish, orange-lined triggerfish, and moray eels. The other venue was found in possession of four lionfish, dog-faced puffers, and Moorish idols.

The owners of the two restaurants were not named, nor were the restaurants themselves, but they were taken to Karon Police Station for legal processing.

Last week a video of someone eating a Moray eel at a Phuket restaurant blew up on Thai social media. The DMCR saw it and tracked down the establishments seen in the video. They busted the owners of the restaurants and uncovered the stash of protected fish.

The possession of protected marine life by these restaurants is a violation of Thai law. The DMCR is responsible for enforcing the law and protecting marine life. Thailand is home to a vast range of marine species, and the government has been working to protect them from overfishing and illegal trade.

A similar incident occurred in November last year when managers of three seafood restaurants in Karon – Bounty Seafood, Chic Restaurant, and Ton Tan Seafood – were arrested for illegally selling baby parrotfish for consumption.

Phuket has been criticised in recent years for its lack of environmental protection. Authorities are taking more action now to step up conservation. Aside from busting restaurants possessing or selling protected marine life, The Royal Thai Navy and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources have launched the Coral Rehabilitation for Divers Volunteers training program, which has attracted several foreign divers interested in the coral restoration project.

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.