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Fishocalypse Now: Massive Buyout of Thai Fishing Boats – Can Marine Life Recover?

Small fishing boats are grounded in Tak Bai district, Narathiwat on Nov 7, 2014 due to rough seas in the Gulf of Thailand. (File photo)

In a bid to promote sustainable fisheries management, the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) is preparing to establish a one-stop-service center to distribute compensation funds to boat owners who wish to exit the industry. This initiative is part of the Sustainable Management of Marine Fisheries Resource Project. Deputy Secretary-General Chonthun Sangpoom of the SBPAC visited the site of the one-stop-service center in tambon Bana, situated in the Muang district of Pattani province.

Chonthun said that the primary goal of the project is to reduce the number of fishing boats in the deep South. He added that the center will start its operations on May 8, and the owners of the first 96 fishing boats are expected to receive compensation for leaving the fishing industry.

On February 26, in support of the government’s efforts to decrease the number of fishing boats, the cabinet passed a resolution allocating 163 million baht for compensating fishermen. Chonthun explained that the fund would subsidize fishing professionals and entrepreneurs alike. Fishing boat owners can submit their compensation requests at the service center during weekdays, within office hours.

In addition to applying for compensation, fishing boat owners must also seek approval for the disassembly of their boats. This process is a collaborative effort between the SBPAC and Internal Security Operations Command Region 4. Chonthun also shared that the first installment will comprise 80% of the total amount, followed by the remaining balance in the second installment.

In September last year, Deputy Government Spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek revealed that a total of 9,608 registered fishing boats were operating, which far exceeded sustainable levels. In order to prevent further damage to marine resources, the government approved compensation for owners of both registered fishing boats and those engaging in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing who decide to exit the industry.

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