Indonesian boats caught fishing illegally off Phuket
PHUKET: A patrol boat from the Royal Thai Navy’s Third Command boarded and seized two Indonesian boats caught fishing illegally in Thai waters and brought all 19 crew members, including a 13-year-old, ashore to deal to charges.
The news was announced by Rear Admiral Sompong Nakthong, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy’s Third Command, at Rassada Pier, where Indonesian boats and fishermen were brought ashore, yesterday (January 28).
R/Adm Sompong was accompanied by R/Adm Tinakorn Kanchanatemi from the Third Area Command, Pol Lt Col Jerayut Niyomdej from the Phuket Marine Police, Nachapong Pranit from the Phuket Marine Office and Pairote Kongsuwankhiri from the Phuket Fisheries Checkpoint.
Indonesian boats were intercepted by the HTMA Klaeng on patrol some 38.5 nautical miles southwest of Phuket on Thursday (January 27).
Armed Navy personnel boarded the two boats around 5 p.m. They searched the ships and placed the crews under arrest. The crew were also tested for COVID-19 before being flown back to Phuket.
HTMS Klaeng was on a routine patrol as part of operations conducted by the Third Area Command’s Maritime Law Enforcement Coordination Center (THAI-MECC Area 3), R/Adm Sompong explained.
Capt. Pichet Songtan, Director of THAI-MECC Area 3 Operations Office Information Division, was also present at the event to explain the arrests to the press yesterday.
The first boat on board was the Sinarmakmur 05. Painted green, the boat is 4.6 meters wide, 14.5 meters long and weighs 25 gross tons. There were 14 crew members on board, including a 13-year-old, R/Adm Sompong said.
The boat uses a seine net and half a ton of catch was found on board, he said.
The second boat was the KM.Bahagia 02, Painted white with an orange wheelhouse, the boat is 3.2m wide, 13.05m long and has a crew of five, R/Adm Sonping continued.
The boat served as a generator support boat for the Sinarmakmur 05, he said.
R/Adm Tinakorn explained that the Third Zone Command had received continuous reports from Thai fishing vessels of boats from Indonesia fishing illegally in Thai waters off Phuket and Phang Nga.
“Some of the equipment they use to attract or catch fish destroys the environment. Other offenses include taking protected species of aquatic animals, causing economic damage to the country and causing damage to the Thai fishing industry,” he said.
“No such offense had been detected until last night (January 27),” he said.
The 19 arrested Indonesians will be handed over to Chalong police for prosecution, he added.
STILL NO ILLEGAL WORKERS AT HOME
Meanwhile, also at Rassada Pier yesterday afternoon, it was reported that checks on four Thai fishing boats operating from Phuket had successfully confirmed there were no illegal migrant workers on board, and no evidence of human trafficking.
The news was announced by Phuket Fisheries Chief Watcharin Rattanachu, who explained that the checks, which were meant to be continuous and random, involved a multi-agency effort.
Involved in the checks on the four boats, not named in the official reports, were officers from the Labor Welfare and Protection Department, the Marine Police, the Employment Bureau, the Social Development Bureau and Phuket Human Security, Phuket Immigration Police, Phuket Port Regional Office, Phuket. Provincial Public Health Bureau and Provincial Police Region 8 and even the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organization (PPAO, or OrBorJor), Mr Watcharin said.
On board the four boats inspected were 112 workers, including 17 Thais, 97 Myanmar nationals and one Cambodian.
“The operation found no workers under the age of 18 and no forced labour. Based on the results of random inspections and interviews, we did not find any illegal acts or behaviors constituting human trafficking,” he said.
“Workers come to work voluntarily without any forced labor measures, and labor inspections on fishing boats are in line with the action plan of the Phuket Provincial Fisheries Office which integrates with agencies involved in labor inspections in sea fishing to prevent illegal activities,” he added.