Source & Author: The Phuket News
The Royal Thai Navy has seized seven of nine suspected illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) tuna fishing boats and charged three agents for presenting fake documents indicating the boats were registered in Bolivia.
Two of the nine boats have since fled Phuket.
Initially nine boats were seized at the Sri Thai Pier in Rassada last Tuesday (Nov 22), Royal Thai Navy Third Area Commander Vice Admiral Surapol Kuptaphan announced yesterday (Nov 28).
V/Adm Surapol also heads the Third Area Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Centre, which operates under the command of the Royal Thai Navy.
Navy officers discovered the boats were already at Sri Thai Pier in Rassada on Nov 16 and the captains were ordered to stay in port until documents presented had been identified.
The nine boats were named as: Yutuna No 1, Yutuna No 3, Abundant 1, Abundant 3, Abundant 6, Abundant 9, Abundant 12, Shun Lai and Sheng Ji Qun 3.
“The vessels initially requested to port in Phuket in order to carry out repairs, and initial checks found the captains and crews were carrying all the correct paperwork,” V/Adm Surapol said.
“All crew were Filipino and Indonesian and the captains were from Taiwan, but the boats were registered in Bolivia,” he added.
Next, the investigating officers learned that two of nine boats, the Yuyuna 1 and the Sheng Ji Qun 3, had already fled the port.
“The Phuket Marine Office has charged three companies – Xiang Hao Co Ltd, Yihong Co Ltd and Suanying Co Ltd – with presenting fake documents to officials, because they are the agents for these nine boats,” V/Adm Surapol reported.
The agents for the Shun Lai and the Abubant 9 have also been fined B5,000 baht for each of the two boats failing to report to authrotiies within 24 hours of entering Phuket waters.
“They can’t leave pier until they have right documents confirmed by Phuket Marine officials,” V/Adm Surapol said.
“With this case, I have repeated to the owner of the pier that they must follow IUU rules strictly. The owner of the pier must inform officials of all registration details, fish-catching equipment and containers of all boats at the pier,” he said.
The criminal charges have been handed over to Wichit Police to handle, as the port is in their jurisdiction, he added.