Published: Tuesday 15 August 2000

-- Environmentalists and fisherfolk in Thailand have asked the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation ( fao ) to hold talks with the Thai government regarding the use of pushnet trawlers, which have led to a massive destruction of marine life.

The pushnet trawlers have destroyed seagrass and corals, which serve as a nursery for young marine life, in the fishing zone of these fisherfolk. According to them, the trawler is like a tractor that destroys marine life completely. It crushes everything that comes in its way. They want the government to take long-term measures to restore the marine ecology and their livelihood. They have rejected any form of compensation and demanded that the pushnet should be kept 3,000 metres away from their fishing zone.

The government had banned pushnet from the area two years ago, but it later agreed to a two-year reprieve to give time to the owners of these trawlers to switch over to other types of fishing gear. The reprieve ended in February, 1999.

Dong Qingsong, deputy regional representative of the fao, has promised to look into the matter. According to him, the Thai government has shown carelessness towards the code of fishery conduct. He admitted that fishing in coastal areas was a serious problem.

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