RAWAI: Chalong Police yesterday stopped four fishing boats and arrested their 16 crew members for fishing illegally in inshore waters. Yootthana Malakarn of the Phuket Fishery Department received an early-morning call from an informant to say that four fishing boats, thought to be dual-trawling, had been seen in the area between Maiton Island and Aow Island, to the south of Cape Panwa. Arriving at the scene with Chalong Police, Yootthana found the boats, the Por Pichai Nawa 26, the Por Pichai Nawa 8, the Pichaisamoot and the Por Chokepaisarn, still dual trawling – a technique whereby two boats sail on parallel courses with a large net rigged between them. The police charged the 16 crew members with violating the Fishing Act of 1947, which prohibits dual trawling anywhere within three kilometers of the shore. Lt Teerawat Liumsuwan of Chalong Police Station said that San Hamuang and Kwanchai Tongpan, the two head fishermen, confessed that after leaving the fishing port in Tambon Rassada at about 3 am they had headed to the area between Maiton Island and Aow Island where they started to fish illegally, continuing until they were arrested at 4 am. On the boats, the police found 50 kilograms of short-bodied mackerel (pla too), Indian mackerel (pla rung), lizardfish (pla park kom), and threadfin bream (pla sai daeng), as well as several other species of small fish commonly found near shore. The fishermen each face a maximum jail term of three months or a 60,000 baht fine, or both.
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