Published: Sunday 15 April 2001

A revised law of the Thailand government banning the use of fishing gear during the peak breeding season cannot be enforced due to strong opposition from commercial fisherfolk, stated Dhammarong Prakobboon, the country's fisheries department chief. Studies by the department indicate that a ban on the use of fishing gear helped increase fish stocks. "However, it was impossible to enforce the ban this year because commercial fisherfolk strongly opposed it," said Prakobboon.

The revised law, issued in September 1999, bans push nets, giant cast nets, mackerel encircling gill nets and anchovy purse seine from the waters of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon and Surat Thani port cities for three months during fish breeding season -- from February 15 to May 15 every year. The present law bans only encircling gill nets, otter trawls and fine mesh nets with a mesh smaller than 4.7 centimetre. "Even though the existing law is not as comprehensive as the new one, it has clearly shown that the ban helps increase fish stocks," said Sukij Siripat of the Southern Coastal Resource Management Project, a Surat Thani-based non-governmental organisation. "State agencies always do what the commercial fisherfolk want because they have lots of money and influence which could benefit the agencies," added Sukij.

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