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Sea Shepherd hunts Interpol-wanted poacher that escaped Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Sea Shepherd hunts Interpol-wanted poacher that escaped Phuket | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The hunt is back on for the internationally black-listed illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing vessel that slipped through the fingers of Phuket officials earlier this year, confirmed Captain Siddharth Chakravarty of the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin.

“The summer fishing season for toothfish starts now, so we have launched this campaign before the Kunlun can do further damage,” Capt Chakravarty told the Phuket Gazette this morning.

The ship, which had recently changed its name from Kunlun to Taishan, was apprehended in Phuket after it falsely reported offloading 182 tonnes of illegally caught Patagonian toothfish, valued at 179 million baht, as 182 tonnes of grouper, valued at just 15mn baht (story here). However, after months of detention, the ship was able to flee the port it was moored at in Phuket (story here).

“Finding a vessel such as the Kunlun, once it had escaped, was like finding a needle in a haystack. Even with modern satellite technology and intelligence sharing, there remain enough avenues for such repeat offenders to disappear,” Capt Chakravarty said. “Thailand took the first step and that was to arrest the vessel, detain her in port and aid the investigations into the vessel’s operations.”

“More can and must be done, but the responsibility must be shared by all countries involved, including those that consume the fish, and not left to be borne by the trading countries alone.”

Three Phuket Customs Officials were transferred out of the province following the ship’s escape in September.

“The Phuket Customs chief and two other officers were transferred to Bangkok,” explained Charoen Chamniklang from the Thai Customs Investigation and Suppression Bureau (ISB). “They allowed the ship to re-fuel, as it needed to keep all 182 tons of toothfish on board frozen. Once completely re-fueled, the Kunlun managed to escape.”

Other than levying a fine for falsely reporting the toothfish as grouper, officials had no authority to keep their cargo, explained Mr Charoen.

“The ship had already been through all the legal formalities at the Customs Office. However, the Phuket Marine Office was still investigating it for issues with its registration,” Mr Charoen explained.

Since 2008, the boat has changed its name at least 10 times, according to a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society report.

Following the unprecedented success of Operation Icefish earlier this year, Sea Shepherd today announced its second campaign to target illegal Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish operators in the Southern Ocean.

At the conclusion of the last campaign, five of the six known illegal toothfish poaching vessels had been detained. The sixth and most notorious, Thunder, was scuttled in waters surrounding Sao Tome and Principe following a 110-day pursuit by the Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker. Sea Shepherd believes that the ship was scuttled in an attempt to destroy evidence of the Thunder‘s illegal fishing operations.

Sea Shepherd has continued to monitor the movements of the remaining illegal vessels throughout the year. This year’s campaign will focus on bringing Interpol-wanted poachers Viking and Taishan to justice.

“Sea Shepherd’s sole aim is to provide a parallel policing presence on the oceans. As the case of Thunder proved, we can intercept, chase, investigate and aid prosecutions to end criminality in its entirety. It is a disappointment that the Kunlun [Taishan] escaped from the clutches of law enforcement, but it also proves just how effective at-sea patrols are and why campaigns such as Operation Icefish are necessary,” Capt Chakravarty told the Gazette.

Led by Capt Chakravarty, Sea Shepherd will once again focus its attention on defending the pristine waters of Antarctica, with the aim to eliminate illegal fishing of vulnerable toothfish from the region.

Top predators in the waters of the Southern Ocean, toothfish are a unique, long-lived species that are particularly vulnerable to exploitation due to their slowness to reach sexual maturity and high market value. Though only limited scientific information exists on the fish, it has been shown that illegal fishing has had a devastating impact on populations, leading to collapse and closure of some fishing areas.

The flagship of the Sea Shepherd fleet, the Steve Irwin, will depart from Melbourne, Australia in December to patrol the ‘shadowlands’ of the Southern Ocean. The ‘shadowlands’ is an area outside of national jurisdiction with limited legitimate vessel traffic, where the risk of detection of fishing crimes by law enforcement authorities is minimal, explained Sea Shepherd.

The Sea Shepherd crews will employ direct-action techniques to fill a law enforcement void that continues to be exploited by the remaining illegal toothfish vessels, the group explained.

Despite the commitment shown by Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to prevent operators of ships such as the Taishan from illegally using their ports, Capt Chakravarty was unable to rule out that South East Asia would not be re-visited by toothfish poachers when it came to unloading their cargo.

“The applicability of international fishing violations remains limited in these countries,” said Captain Chakravarty.

“The oceans are in peril and our actions remain the only pro-active and definite policing presence to tackle illegality. We intend to embrace the responsibility with courage and fortitude, and once again locate, investigate and shut down the most notorious poachers on this planet.”

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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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

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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