Thai Navy seizes 3 fishing boats, arrests 15 Vietnamese
Three Vietnamese fishing boats were captured by the Thai Naval Area 2 off Songkhla province for raking sea cumbers in Thai territorial waters.
Naval Area 2 deputy commander Rear Admiral Phichit Srirungruang said 15 Vietnamese nationals were arrested on Thursday from the three boats after the naval base was alerted at 7.30am about the boats infiltrating Thai territorial waters.
The three fishing boats were seized near the Songkhla navigation floating light by the HTMS Klongyai ship, Phichit said.
The first boat was captured about 64 nautical miles from the floating light and five men were arrested. The second boat was seized 58 nautical miles from the floating light and six people arrested and the third was seized at 57.7 nautical miles and four people arrested.
Phichit said the three boats were found to be illegally raking for sea cucumbers.
The Vietnamese reportedly said that they had travelled from Ca Mau in southern Vietnam and had been raking the sea bed for sea cucumbers for five days before they were arrested.
The three fishing boats were taken to the Songkhla Naval Base port at 7.30am on Friday and the 15 fishing crew members were tested for Covid-19 before pressing charges against them.
Phichit said he had personally gone to the port to direct the operation.
He said the 15 Vietnamese were charged with using unregistered boats to fish illegally in Thai territorial waters without fishing licences. The boat skippers were charged with directing fishing without skippers’ licences. The 15 were also slapped with the additional charge of being immigrants working in Thailand without a work permit.
Phichit said the latest arrests were the sixth in fiscal year 2022 and nine foreign illegal fishing boats had been seized along with 42 crew members.