Big Trawlers: Donít Blame Us
By Pennapa Hongthong, The Nation, Thailand
One of the leading trawler operators in Trang has rejected the charge
that big trawler boats are the cause of fish stock
Somphol Jirojmontree, chairman of the Commercial
Trawler Association of Kan Tang, said his trawlers were too big to catch
fish in the conservation zone, the area stretching out 3 kilometres from
coastline where trawlers and push nets have been banned in a bid to
restore fish stock.
"Trawlers and push net boats, which catch fish
near the coastline and destroy fish stocks are the small ones operated by
villagers Ė not by me," he said.
He said that big boats have
to fish in deep seas at least eight kilometers (5 miles) off the coast
because they are too big to operate in shallow waters. For big trawlers,
it is not worth fishing near the coastline. His operations did not harm
marine life, he added.
"As for endangered species, donít worry.
Dolphins always swim faster than a boat so we canít catch them. And sea
turtle and dugong live in shallow waters, not in the deep sea where we
operate our trawlers."
Somphol was supported by Sithichai
Pamonvisit, another trawler owner, who said that fishing in deeper sea had
no impact on fish stocks.
"The most important port of the sea is
near the shore. This is the nursing ground of fish and other marine life.
So if villagers fishing along the coastline can keep it fertile, stocks
will be rehabilitated," he said. He claimed his boats took only mature
Asked whether he supported small-scale fishermenís demand to
expand protection zone from 3,000 metres to 5,000 metres, Somphol made no
" I think the protection zone should depend on
geography. From the mainland 5,000 metres is all right because the water
is shallow. From some islands only one kilometer would be enough because
the water is very deep even it is near the coastline," he
Last year about 3,000 small-scale fishermen from Ranong,
Phang Nga, Phuket and Krabi gathered outside Krabiís City Hall and
demanded the government to expand the conservation zone. The villagers
claimed that the extension would allow rehabilitation of fish