Thai fishing boat owners in the southern province of Ranong has sold over 10 vessels to Myanmar buyers to survive from the authorities' crackdown on illegal fishing, said Thawee Boonying, president of the province's fishery association.
He said that several owners who have no registration papers could not shoulder the financial burden. Without the papers, their boats cannot leave ports without risking actions. Meanwhile, they are charged Bt500 a day as docking fee per vessel, aside from expenses for the crew.
They have put their vessels on sale and most of the buyers are from Myanmar, he said. A 100-tonne trawler can fetch Bt2.5-Bt3 million.
"Selling the vessels is the best thing they can do now. They cannot venturer into the Thai waters without the papers. Myanmar also closes its waters while Indonesia toughens fishing rules. Myanmar operators show interest in the boats because ship building is not allowed in the country. Thai operators now can either quit or use the proceeds to buy vessels with legal papers," Thawee said.
Thailand's crackdown is to comply with the European Union's regulations on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Of the total 7,000 fishing boats in Thailand, some 3,000 are still not registered with authorities. Earlier, fishermen and vessel owners staged protests over the tightening of regulations.