11 July 2024

Thailand’s Marine and Coastal Resources Department has ordered a search for a Thai fishing trawler which was caught on video, posted on social media, catching about 10 bottlenose dolphins in the trawler’s nets.

The 5-minute clip, posted on the Facebook page of ‘Anuwat’, also shows trawler crew stepping on some of the captured dolphins and some of the dolphins being pulled on board and then being thrown back into the sea.

The department’s director-general, Mr. Jatuporn Burutpat, told Thai PBS today that he had already been informed about the clip, that the trawler was based in the southern province of Pattani and that the incident took place last month.

He said he has sought help from the Fisheries Department to track down the trawler so that legal action can be taken against the skipper and owner of the vessel.

According to the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act B.E. 2535, the skipper and the owner of the trawler are liable to four years jail term and/or a fine of 40,000 baht.

Mr. Jatuporn said that the video clip was enough evidence to implicate the wrongdoers and to charge them with illegal hunting of bottlenose dolphins, which is a protected species.

The Thai Fisheries Association, however, said that the boat, Sor Pornnavee 9, was previously owned by a Thai national in Pattani province, identified as Mr. Surat Buapud, but it had been sold to a Malaysian on June 30th, 2017 and renamed KNF7779.

The association also said that the bottlenose dolphins were not caught in Thai territorial waters. A source in the association said that  the Thai crew were still working on the vessel which is already registered in Malaysia.

He pleaded with all fishermen to help protect rare marine species, adding that he would travel to the southern province of Krabi on Tuesday to discuss with officials preventive measures for dugongs after at least five of them had been found dead in the sea or on the beaches of Krabi and Trang provinces in the past 2-3 months.

Responding to the video clip, Thon Thamrongnawasawat, vice dean of the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University, said that he was saddened by the incident.

He added, however, that the ensnaring of dolphins in a trawler’s nets was not intentional, noting that the dolphins might be chasing after the fish that the trawler was legitimately catching.

He suggested that the Fisheries Department track down the fishing vessel in question first, which should not be difficult because of the use of on-board identification systems to deal with illegal, unregulated, unreported (IUU) fishing.