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Video Report: Phuket fishing boats raided for human trafficking, IUUs

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Video Report: Phuket fishing boats raided for human trafficking, IUUs | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Governor Nisit Jansomwong yesterday joined a random inspection of three Phuket fishing boats near Rassada Pier as part of a nationwide crackdown on illegal trawlers and human-trafficking of migrant workers in the industry.

The boarding party comprised officers from the Phuket Marine Police, Royal Thai Navy and other government agencies, accompanied Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Pinit Sirichai.

“The inspection focused on checking work permits and business licences, and to check on what the workers are paid and how are they treated by their employers,” said Governor Nisit.

The 47 workers – seven Thais and 40 Myanmar nationals – and the three fishing vessels were all found to be legal.

“Each fisherman receives a salary of 8,000 baht per month plus a bonus from the catch each month, which alone is about an extra 10,000 to 15,000 baht a month,” Governor Nisit noted.

“We will carry out random inspections every week. We know some boats in Phuket still do not have licences, but we are giving these boats until the end of May to register.”

After then, officials will crack down on any illegal workers and boat owners found illegally operating fishing vessels, the governor warned.

“They will be charged for operating an illegal, unreported and unregulated [IUU] fishing vessel,” he said.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is spearheading the recently-launched nationwide campaign against IUUs. Phuket, Chumphon, Ranong and Songkhla were the first four provinces in the country to pilot the crackdown (story here).

During his visit to Phuket early last week, Agriculture Minister Petipong Pungbun Na Ayudhya noted that the information gathered during a recent blitz on human-trafficking in Thailand’s fishing industry had helped paint a better picture of how IUUs were operating in Thailand.

The human-trafficking blitz followed the United States downgrading Thailand to Tier 3 in its annual Trafficking in Persons report last year for failure to take measures to fight human-trafficking in the Kingdom.

“We are now working on collecting data in order to assess what legal loop holes there are and what needs to be done to better regulate the fishing industry,” Mr Petipong said.

“We aim to establish laws to directly resolve issues with IUU fishing vessels operating out of Thailand. This will give a positive boost to our fish-product export industry.”

The new fishing regulations are expected to be drawn up and implemented on May 6, but not officially signed into law until July, Mr Petipong said (story here).

Mr Petipong’s visit followed the seizure of Atlantic toothfish vessel Taishan in Phuket last month. The ship 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 (story here).

The inspection in Phuket yesterday coincided with similar checks in Chon Buri and Songkhla, carried out ahead of an upcoming inspection by representatives from the European Union (story here).

The European Commission on April 21 put Thailand on formal notice for not taking sufficient measures in the international fight against IUUs.

Thailand was given six months to implement a corrective tailor-made action plan, or face a ban on seafood exports to Europe (story here).

— Thanaphon Phromthong

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand targeting specific Chinese provinces for “tourism bubble”

Jack Burton

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Thailand targeting specific Chinese provinces for “tourism bubble” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Travelwire News

Thailand’s minister of tourism and sports says his ministry will target specific provinces in China in a bid to attract tourists back to the resort island of Phuket as travel restrictions are gradually eased. Pipat Ratchakijprakarn says the ministry will not splash out money launching a tourist campaign all across China but rather target some of the many provinces that have brought Covid-19 under control.

He didn’t specify which provinces, but said Phuket is being eyed to lead the planned “tourism bubbles” comprising Thailand and its selected partners. The primary target is selected Chinese cities and provinces.

“China is the first market with potential, because flying time to Thailand is less than six hours.”

Other markets being discussed include South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and some south east Asian countries.

Before the pandemic, 1 in every 4 foreign visitors to Thailand was Chinese. There were almost 40 million foreign arrivals last year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Officials raid 2 Phuket casinos, arresting 87 illegal gamblers

Jack Burton

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Officials raid 2 Phuket casinos, arresting 87 illegal gamblers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

Officials have raided 2 Phuket casinos resulting in 87 people being arrested for allegedly gambling after the island’s provincial police received complaints of gambling dens operating around the clock – a violation of the current Emergency Decree which bans crowds.

The first raid took place at about 3:30 pm and was at a casino in tambon Talat Nua of Muang district. The premises provided parking spaces for motorcycles and up to 30 cars, and was fenced on all sides with metal sheets. Officials arrested 45 gamblers-30 men and 15 women. They also seized 62,420 baht that was placed as wagers and a gold necklace that was 15 grams in weight.

Around the same time, a second team raided another casino tambon Sisunthon of Thalang district in Phuket’s north. It was also fenced with metal sheets and featured an ample amount of parking space. 42 people- 22 men and 20 women- were rounded up with police seizing 64,260 baht in placed wagers.

All have been charged with illegal betting and violating the Emergency Decree which was recently extended through July.

Officials raid 2 Phuket casinos, arresting 87 illegal gamblers | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Phuket’s (in)famous “Soi Bangla” district reopens today

Jack Burton

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Phuket’s (in)famous “Soi Bangla” district reopens today | The Thaiger

Today is the official reopening of Phuket’s famous (or infamous) “Soi Bangla” nightlife district, but only about 20% of venues say they’re reopening during this early stage. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced yesterday that all night entertainment venues may reopen but must strictly adhere to health guidelines set out to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the spokesman for the CCSA, says night entertainment venues, including pubs, bars, karaoke venues and beer gardens will be allowed to open, but only until midnight. Social distancing measures will be strictly enforced, and customers must use the Thai Chana app to check in and out.

The Patong Entertainment Business Association president says only about 20% of the 324 registered members are expected to reopen initially, but he expects more to reopen soon. Among the 22 rules announced last week- to be presented to the CCSA for approval- were that all staff must wear face masks and face shields, but performers may wear face shields only. No bottles are to be served, and all drinks are to be served in glasses. No pool table games (including snooker and billiards) and no dart games are to be allowed.

The number of guests in each venue is to be restricted to cater for social distancing, with at least 2 metres between tables, or partitions must be installed to ensure patrons are seated at least one metre away from each other.

Undercutting the main reason people visit popular venues, the draft rules also call for groups to be limited to 5 people, and for guests to be prohibited from dancing and singing, gathering, shouting, or “wandering around the premises”.

“I have no idea what the rules will be, but we will open anyway. If the full list of 22 rules for pubs, bars and entertainment venues is to be applied, we won’t be able to enforce all the rules, because enforcing all these rules is impossible. But we can follow some of the rules, such as social distancing, wearing masks and checking temperatures.”

Even Patong’s mayor told The Phuket News that she is yet to receive a copy of all the rules to be enforced.

“The next thing to do is follow up with the CCSA about the rules. This is very important for the entertainment industry in Patong. I will help and consider being flexible with the rules for entertainment businesses in Patong, because the rules announced by CCSA are the general rules for many places. But some of these rules are not appropriate for businesses here. We have to apply the right rules and optimise them for businesses in Patong.”

The PEBA president dismissed a few entertainment zones being singled out in other countries as “hotbeds for starting a second wave” of Covid-19 infections.

“I do not care what some people claim is the risk of being in a bar. If the government is genuinely concerned about the risk of Covid-19 spreading, then it is not just about bars, pubs and entertainment venues. The risk of Covid-19 spreading applies anywhere where people are around, not only at bars and pubs.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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