Traveling by water over a week from their home ports in the south, a group of small-scale anglers arrived at parliament today – World Oceans Day – with a petition to stop Big Fishing from catching small and immature fish.
Members of Thai Sea Watch, the Federation of Local Fisher Folks Association, and others arrived by boat to hand lawmakers a petition calling for the government to take action against major fishing operations. Among the consequences of the practice has been a significant drop in mackerel populations in the past few years – something they said “destroyed a billion-baht worth economic opportunities.”
“Previously, in Thailand, we had a yearly production of over 100,000 tons of mackerel,” said Wichoksak Narongpairee, Thai Sea Watch president. “But in the past four to five years, mackerel has been drastically reduced to tens of thousands of tons per year.”
Section 57 of the Fisheries Act states that no person shall catch aquatic animals smaller than a size determined by the authorities. The minimum acceptable catch size of mackerel is 14 centimeters, yet many commercial fishing boats catch mackerel and other fish that are smaller.
Wichoksak said one of the core problems is that the authorities fail to strictly police such measures or penalize violators.
Wichoksak also demanded that the government set a “fair” catch quota. Currently, commercial fishing has been granted 82% of the available fishing capacity while local fishermen only get 18%. Two weeks ago, he started a petition on Change.org to call for stricter enforcement.
“The Thai seafood industry is destroying marine animals and it hurts hundreds of thousands of small local fishermen who would earn a living,” he said. “To be honest, it hurts me to see my fellow seafood lovers pay thousands of baht to buy just ten steamed blue crabs to feed their family … They had to think very hard every week before buying fresh seafood.”
Photos: Thai Sea Watch