Vendor arrested for selling protected fish
PHUKET TOWN: A vendor has been arrested for selling protected fish species at the Rassada Pier today, just days after Phuket Senator Paiboon Upatising lodged an official complaint with Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi about gaps in the law that allow many arrested for illegal fishing to walk free. Acting on a tip-off, the Marine Police and officers from the Provincial Fisheries Department (PFD) arrested Apinan Jirasantikul, 34, at his home near the pier. He was found in possession of 15 kilograms of protected fish species, including Kheetung, Khaw Mao, Butterfly fish, Parrot fish and Salid. Kawi Saranakomgul, Biologist at the PFD, said that Apinan faces a charge of illegal possession of a protected species, for which the maximum penalty is up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 100,000 baht, or both. He added, “Right now, the demand for these types of fish is very high, especially in markets abroad and at Chatujak Market in Bangkok. Every day, these fish are being transported to Bangkok, Singapore and Malaysia.” Vice Governor Manit Wattanasen said today that efforts are underway to crack down on illegal fishing, but that existing laws make it difficult. “The Governor has ordered me and other government officers to strictly enforce our protection law,” he said today. “But right now, the law still has a loophole because it applies only to Phuket. “Whenever police arrest suspects, they always say that they caught their fish in other provinces [outside of the specified areas where fish are protected],” he explained.
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