By Krissana Thiwatsirikul
The vessels had been left there by their owners after being deemed illegal and unable to be used for sailing or fishing purposes.
The government had offered compensation to the owners of such fishing boats that were deemed illegal because they did not meet the authorities’ criteria.
However, the sunken vessels in the Pak Phanang River – along with reportedly many other fishing boats in the region – were not subject to such compensation because their registration information did not match the actual boat conditions, hence they were left partially sunken in the river, said the owner of one of the boats in question, who asked not to be named.
Officials prior to 2015 were not so strict about such matters, and many boat owners therefore modified their vessels to a larger size, such as from 30 gross tonnes to 70 gross tonnes, before requesting a change to their registration information, he said.
Then, despite failing to get the required documentation, they simply continued to use the vessels to fish, the boat owner explained.
In 2015, Thailand – pressured by the European Union's so-called “yellow card” and the threat of a trade ban over illegal fishing – got way stricter, and many illegally modified vessels were left partially sunken in the river as the owners did not know where to dispose of them, resulting in a hindrance and landscape issue.
Kamolsak Lertpaiboon, president of the Nakhon Si Thammarat Association of Merchants of Sea Products from Trawling Fisheries, on Tuesday said the issue might have stemmed from flaws in planning and implementing the solution to illegal fishing problems, which had led to many trawler owners being barred from compensation or entitlement to aid.