Fishing boats, crew return to Thailand after capture in Malaysia


BANGKOK: Four Thai fishing boats with 19 crew members who were detained in Malaysia early this month have returned to Thailand thanks to successful negotiations.

Bancha Sukkaew, director-general of the Fisheries Department, announced that the fishing boats and their crew had docked at the Songkhla Fishing Pier 2 at 8am on Thursday (July 11).

The four fishing boats are Sup Rung Charoenchai 31, Luk Jiab 89, Lor Thaweesup 29 and Veera Pramong 999.

The vessels were sailing along the Andaman coast towards the Gulf of Thailand on the other side of Thailand, and on July 3, they entered Malaysian waters to make their way to Songkhla province.

However, due to strong winds and rough seas, the boats had to turn off their engines and the strong tides washed them into Malaysian waters near Tioman Island.

The boats were then captured by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency on charges of entering Malaysian waters to fish without permission.

The crew then called on the Royal Thai Navy, which in turn alerted the Fisheries Department and other relevant Thai agencies.

Upon hearing of the incident, Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow ordered the department to check the records of the Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC)’s Vessel Monitoring System and the information the four boats had supplied to the Fisheries Department’s Port-In Port-Out (PIPO) control centre.

The information from FMC and PIPO centre showed that the boats had sought permission to return after fishing in the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand.

So, the Songkhla governor coordinated with the Naval Area 3 to explain to the Malaysian authorities that the boats were travelling to the Gulf and had no intention to fish in Malaysian waters.

After receiving this information, the Malaysian authorities released the boats on July 5 and they pulled out of the coast of Malaysia on July 8, arriving in Songkhla three days later.

Thamanat, meanwhile, ordered the Fisheries Department to provide food and drink to the 19 crew members to shore up their morale.

Bancha, meanwhile, said the operators of the four boats are now seeking permission to fish in the Gulf of Thailand, and Thamanat has instructed the Fisheries Department to help them resume fishing as soon as possible. - The Nation/ANN

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