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Phuket

Phuket sea gypsies arrested for cyanide fishing

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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RAWAI, PHUKET: Ten Rawai sea gypsies were arrested by Marine Police late Sunday night and charged with collecting protected species for the illicit trade in tropical fish.

The arrests were carried out by Phuket Marine Police and officials from the Phuket Marine and Coastal Resources Conservation Center (PMCRCC).

Under the direction of PMCRCC Director Paitoon Panchaipum, the officers intercepted two large longtail boats filled with protected marine species as they were coming ashore at Rawai’s Phromthep Cape.

Among the fishing ‘equipment’ collected as evidence in the case were bottles of cyanide.

One of the most toxic substances known to man, cyanide is used to temporarily stun fish so that they can be easily removed from the coral reefs they inhabit.

Cyanide fishing has been described by environmentalists as ‘an act of genocide’ against coral reef habitats due to the damage it inflicts.

A search of the vessels recovered more than 250 fish of various species in 200 plastic bags, all ready for transport. These included protected angelfish and butterflyfish species as well as a variety of shellfish, corals, sea fans and sea anemones.

Officials estimated the local value of the entire haul at about 200,000 baht locally, but with a value of up to one million baht on the global black market for aquarium fish.

It was impossible to financially assess the damage to the natural environment resulting from the cyanide, Mr Paitoon said.

Officials were alerted to the activity by unnamed ‘green volunteers’ who noticed the sea gypsies’ illegal activities, which officials presume to have been carried out near or inside Similan Marine National Park.

The sea gypsies would collect the fish from reefs for transport back to Phuket aboard two longtail boats, officials said.

Collected as evidence in the case were order lists and receipts, indicating that the suspects were working to fill orders placed by smugglers thought to be based in Bangkok, officials said.

After their arrests, the suspects were sent to Chalong Police Station for processing.

Under provisions of the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 1992, the suspects face charges of possession of endangered marine life captured without permission from a restricted area.

They have already confessed to the charges and have been released on bail.

If convicted, they face prison terms of up to four years and/or a fine of up to 40,000 baht.

PMCRCC researcher Prajuab Mokarat said demand for aquarium fish continues to drive illegal fishing practices.

The center often receives reports of illegal fishing but finds it difficult to arrest the perpetrators because they employ several strategies, such as the use of decoy vessels, to deceive officials, he said.

The arrests were the latest blow to the Rawai sea gypsy community, which is embroiled in a land dispute with a local property owner who wants to evict them from part of the coastal land they claim to have inhabited for generations.

— Nation Breaking News (Thai)

 

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

Road deaths

Phuket woman impaled by steel rod in motorbike accident

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: CCTV footage shows the Woman impaled in a motorbike crash.

Police were called to the scene of a gruesome motorbike accident just after midnight in the Kathu area of Phuket, where a woman was impaled by a steel rod. The 34 year old woman crashed her motorbike into a concrete power pole on Wichit Songkram Rd between the Kathu Shrine and Kathu Municipality. rescue workers responded, and together with police, they arrived to find the woman still hanging from the power pole.

Khanuengnit Onoaun was driving a black and pink Honda Click motorbike and may have been speeding just before being impaled by the rod on the electric pole. Her motorbike was lying nearby the pole with significant damage to the front of the bike and the front wheel.

CCTV footage recovered from the scene suggest that the woman may have fallen asleep and crashed into the power pole. The pole had steel rods protruding from its side that utility workers use to climb when service or repairs are needed to the electrical lines, which is what impaled her when her motorbike hit the pole.

The metal rod pierced the woman’s upper chest and went all the way through her body with about 2 inches exposed on the other side of her as she hung from the pole. Rescue workers could not remove her from the steel rod at the scene of the accident safely and instead chose to cut the rod to take her off the electric pole and into an ambulance. Cutting through the steel took about 5 minutes for the rescuers.

She arrived and was admitted into Vachira Phuket Hospital with the metal rod still impaled through her chest. The hospital had no updates about the woman’s condition after her motorbike crash other than that she is alive and receiving treatment currently. The police plan on questioning her once she has had time to recover and investigating the incident further if necessary.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

TAT looks forward to welcoming 129,000 foreign tourists to Phuket

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr / jeiline

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says it expects 129,000 tourists to arrive on the southern island of Phuket in the first 3 months of its re-opening. Officials still insist the island will re-open for quarantine-free travel for vaccinated foreign tourists from July 1. And according to the Bangkok Post, the TAT also plans to team up with airlines to offer 100,000 subsidised one-way domestic air tickets.

The association is in talks with Thai Airways and Thai Smile Airways about offering a 1,000 – 2,000 baht subsidy towards domestic air fares for tourists participating in Phuket’s sandbox scheme. The scheme will also be expanded to include all local carriers.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn expects around 30,000 – 40,000 tourists a month, through Phuket’s sandbox model, with the primary target being long-haul markets. According to Yuthasak, 7-day packages in Phuket will be on offer for a somewhat eye-watering 150,000 – 200,000 baht per visitor, a significant increase on the 50,000 baht average spending per trip prior to the pandemic.

The Bangkok Post reports that most tourists will be required to arrive via a direct flight to Phuket. However, in the event of there being no available time slots at the airport, tourists will be permitted to transfer via Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport using a dedicated sealed terminal.

Once the other 9 sandbox areas join the re-opening, Yuthasak expects between 3 and 4 million tourists in the last quarter of the year. He says standard operating procedures to govern the entry of foreign tourists, including Covid-19 testing and guidelines for sealed routes, will be submitted to the Centre for Economic Situation Administration this month. Once approved and published in the Royal Gazette, tourism operators can launch their sales and marketing plans.

Yuthasak adds that work is needed on the supply and administration of vaccines, pointing out that new clusters in places like Bangkok could affect vaccine administration in Phuket.

“The new outbreak in Thailand didn’t affect tourism sentiment in foreign markets as the media in each country turned their focus towards the situation in India and domestic cases in their own countries. However, travel agents expressed concern that the virus situation may affect the reopening timeline which prompted TAT to confirm that everything is running as scheduled.”

He said travel agents are waiting for clear entry regulations, so they can offer packages to their customers.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Phuket restrictions and bans extended, new ‘party’ clause added

Tim Newton

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UPDATE: Including a new clause…

“5.2 Participating in eating or drinking of alcohol, in the family home or in any other place of residence, must not be attended by outsiders. In addition, gathering together or the organising of any other activities is prohibited. If the person who violates or commits this offence is a foreigner, the permission to remain living in Thailand under the Immigration Act could be revoked.”

The new clause added to the extension of the restrictions includes a specific paragraph aimed at banning gatherings of people at their homes. Obviously with THIS in mind.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Phuket’s list of current ‘Covid’ restrictions have been extended until at least May 31. All the current levels of restrictions will remain until the end of the month after the Phuket Governor announced the continuation of restrictions this afternoon.

Daily new infection numbers continue to add to the island’s total of 556 since the start of April. The island’s latest wave started after a series of events, mostly Bangkok partygoers flying down for parties at Café Del Mar in Kamala, Illusion and Shelter, both in Bangla Road. The parties were organised by a Thong Lor based events company called Kolour. The daily numbers, whilst relatively stable, have not been going down as officials were hoping.

The announcement also puts any hope of a July 1 ‘quarantine free’ tourism opening in severe doubt. The island’s vaccine roll out has also slowed since the initial flurry of enthusiasm. Only 22% of Phuket’s population has currently been vaccinated (a long way ahead of the rest of the country) whilst the minimum vaccination level has to reach 70% according to the Government before they will entertain the ‘Sandbox’ opening proposal.

Entry to the island, by road or air, will remain restricted and anyone without proof of vaccination or a current PCR Covid test (within 72 hours) will have to do a full 14 day quarantine period (after May 15). The rapid Covid tests that were being conducted at the airport and Tha Chatchai Checkpoint are being stopped from this Saturday.

Notably, following the story of foreigners in Cherngtalay being fined 6,000 baht each for hosting a party at their home on Sunday night, the ban on gatherings and parties will continue.

Meanwhile, the island has reported its first death during the third wave of cases since the start of April, and a new cluster of infections in the Phoon Pon district in Phuket Town. The man that died was a 71 year old man who died yesterday morning.

UPDATE: Phuket restrictions and bans extended, new 'party' clause added | News by Thaiger

 

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