Police uncover boat-registration scam in crackdown on illegal fishing
Police have uncovered a boat-registration scam in their crackdown on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing that threatens Thailand’s 12.5-billion-baht export industry.
The drama began on January 8 when the Noree-Nava fishing boat disappeared after asking permission to switch off its geo-location system because it had “suffered damage”. Chon Buri marine inspectors eventually tracked it down and suspected it had been dumped as part of a registration-switching scam.
On Thursday, national assistant police chief Surachet Hakparn asked officers to investigate boat registrations in nearby Samut Sakhon.
Investigators found Sanan Saelee had bought a boat from Sutheera Mukda in Chon Buri on November 16 and re-registered it under a different name. Discovering that the boat’s number was damaged, police called in Thai Maritime Enforcement Command Centre (MECC) officials, who peeled of the paint to reveal the old name.
Declaring it a case of counterfeit registration, Surachart said police would round up suspects and investigate whether government officials were involved.
Thailand dropped into the Tier 2 Watchlist of the US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report last year, adding pressure to efforts to clear up IUU abuses in the fishing industry.
PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has appointed the Subcommittee on Solving Illegal Fishing to tackle the problem.
The police urged citizens to report any suspected human trafficking via the 1599 hotline 1599 or https://www.facebook.com/antihumantraffickingpolice.