11 July 2024

All shark species should be listed as protected marine animals to protect them from being hunted for commercial purposes, said Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a well known marine scientist and vice dean of the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University on Thursday.

He made the above statement after a picture of shark meat, reportedly snapped by a tourist at a market on Lanta Island in Thailand’s southern province of Krabi, was posted on social media on Wednesday.

Thon said he suspected that the shark meat in question was from blacktip reef sharks, believed to have been caught by fishermen in Maya Bay or Koh Hong, a small island about 20 kilometres from Lanta Island.

About 100 blacktip reef sharks returned to Maya Bay, a popular tourist spot, after it was closed to all visitors for regeneration.

He said that blacktip reef sharks, as well as many other sharks such as hammerhead and leopard sharks, are not protected by Thai law because they are not included in the list of protected marine species.

Although they are not legally protected, catching them in no-fishing zones, such as marine parks, is prohibited. Also, catching of small sharks, with a body length less than 50cm, is also banned.

Thon said that he would propose that all sharks be listed as protected animals to prevent them from being hunted to extinction.

Mr. Pinsak Suraswadi, deputy director-general of Marine and Coastal Resources department, said that, while there is still no law to protect sharks, one practical measure to protect sharks is to urge people to stop buying or eating shark meat.