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Marine officials clamp down on IUU fishing in Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Marine officials clamp down on IUU fishing in Phuket | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Local maritime officers and fishing operators gathered yesterday to discuss measures launched to shut down illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in the region.

The push for solutions follows the EU putting Thailand on formal notice on April 21 for not taking sufficient measures in the international fight against IUUs (story here). Thailand was given six months to implement a corrective tailor-made action plan.

The yellow card was issued after a joint task force in Phuket seized an IUU vessel wanted for fishing for toothfish in the Southern Ocean after it falsely reported and offloaded its cargo (story here).

The ship, Taishan, had already fled from the navies of New Zealand and Australia, as well as global conservation organization Sea Shepherd, before passing through Indonesian waters and mooring near Phuket.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has since ordered navy commanders throughout the country to take strong action on IUUs, prompting the forum yesterday at Royal Phuket City Hotel in Phuket Town, which was attended by officials and operators from Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Center Area 3 (Thai MECC 3).

Thai MECC 3 covers the six southern provinces of Phuket, Ranong, Phang Nga, Krabi, Trang and Satun.

“The main purpose of this meeting is to give relevant officers the opportunity to present their suggestions and address problems they have faced so far in tackling IUU fishing,” said Vice Admiral Sayan Prasongsamrej, commander of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, yesterday.

“We will solve any problems as soon as we can. Everyone involved in this industry needs to work together to stop these illegal activities.”

V/Adm Sayan noted, however, that much progress had already been made in preventing IUU fishing.

“We have already opened the Port in-Port out Control Center [story here]. Now, we are in the process of opening a One-Stop Fishing Service, and eventually we will be installing Vessel Monitoring Systems [VMS] on all fishing boats,” he said, though he did not when the VMS would have to be installed.

Just last month, Phuket Marine Office chief Phuriphat Theerakulpisut announced that fishing boats up to 60 gross tonnes must install VMS (story here), as part of an effort to improve safety on the water.

V/Adm Sayan added that a special navy unit, dedicated to monitoring the sea and all of the island’s ports for illegal fishing activities, will be launched at 2pm today at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) in Cape Panwa,

“Each of the six Thai MECC 3 provinces will see all of the same measures taken to combat IUUs,” he said.

V/Adm Sayan explained that the main problem addressed at the meeting was in regards to boat registration and licencing.

“Recently, we have ordered more than 1,000 boat owners to report to us so that we can ensure that they have the proper licences, and check all of their documents along with documents from the Marine Office,” he said.

“We are in the process of determining exactly how many fishing boats are working in our area. Once we know this, we can better monitor their activities and, in turn, better combat IUUs.”

All information collected by the officers will be sent to the Royal Thai Navy, the Thailand MECC and other relevant offices, confirmed V/Adm Sayan.

— Kongleaphy Keam

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

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Crime

Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Newshawk Phuket

Drugs valued at 15 million baht have been seized in a drug crackdown in Phuket. On October 22, Phuket police, along with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, reported to the media about a drug crackdown that ended up with a total seizure valued around 15 million baht.

Earlier, the police received a report from an undercover agent that a woman named ‘Ying’ or ‘Suthicha Thirawut’ was a local drug dealer trading drugs in Phuket area, so police planned to purchase drugs from the woman. They contacted Ying through another woman named ‘Noina’, Ying’s close friend. Around 10pm on October 20, police bought 1 gram of crystal methamphetamine from Noina before arresting Ying and another man, Thanet Thongtan, at the Naka Condominium.

The two confessed that they receive the drug from a man who they weren’t able to name, in order to sell in Phuket. They were paid 40,000 – 50,000 baht per time and admitted to police that they have done this for the man three times already. This time, the drugs hadn’t been sold to customers as they were arrested before being able to make a sale.

Apart from 2.4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, valued around 4.8 million baht, the police also discovered 76,800 methamphetamine pills, worth around 11 million baht.

The three are now assisting Phuket police with their enquires related to the case.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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