Indonesians in dock about fishing trip
Nineteen crew members from two Indonesian fishing vessels have been arrested and charged with illegal fishing in Thai waters after being caught off Phuket on Thursday.
The seizure of the two vessels by a maritime patrol vessel took place around 4pm about 38 nautical miles west of Phuket, said Captain Phichet Songtan, director of the information division of the Thai Marine Enforcement Command Center’s Region 3 Bureau, yesterday.
The 19 fishermen, including a 13-year-old boy, and the two vessels were brought into port in Phuket yesterday morning, he said.
The crew members have also been charged by Phuket Police with illegal entry and the ships Sinar Makmur 05 with a crew of 14, and the KM Bahagia 02 with a crew of five were confiscated.
The seizures of foreign fishing vessels on Thursday were the first in those waters this year, he said, adding that a similar seizure of an Indonesian vessel was carried out last year.
Those arrested after last year’s raid are still in prison in Thailand while their ship remains at Ratsada Port in Phuket, he said.
Marine authorities are responding to many incidents in which foreign fishing vessels are observed illegally taking fish out of Thai waters, as well as stealing fish traps and equipment, he said.
Thai fishing vessel operators lose thousands of baht every time their fish traps are stolen, said Rear Admiral Thinnakon Kanchanatemi, an administrative director with the Region 3 Office of the Thai Marine Enforcement Command Centre.
The center is stepping up patrols this year and cracking down on foreign vessels entering Thai waters.
Further arrests and seizures will act as a deterrent, the center believes.
Meanwhile, Nachaphong Pranit, director of the Phuket Marine Department office, said two Indonesian vessels caught illegally fishing more than 12 nautical miles from shore are spared an additional charge of violating navigation rules as the Ships were just outside the perimeter.