After the oil spill near Rayong, the Fisheries Department has one piece of advice for seafood lovers: "Don't avoid it, just sniff it first to see if it smells of crude oil."
Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry has vowed to check if seafood sold in the market is contaminated.
“Don’t panic. Normally, aquatic animals swim to safety when they detect something abnormal around their habitat,” Fisheries Department director-general Wimol Jantrarota said yesterday.
He said the fish that had washed up around Koh Samet’s Ao Phrao beach had died because they were unable to escape in time.
According to Wimol, aquatic animals exposed to the oil would smell bad even after being cooked.
Speaking while on a working trip overseas, Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong said information available in other countries where similar accidents had happened showed that the presence of the carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon chemical was higher in marine life in the wake of oil spills.
“So, we will check the quality of the seawater and contamination of the seafood to protect people,” Pradit said.
He added that the adverse impacts of the spill could be cut down if the clean-up and recovery operations were implemented quickly and properly.
Fishing industry suffers
Meanwhile, Rayong Small-Trawler Fisheries Association president Jaturas Iamworanirun said the spill had hit the livelihoods of the local fishermen very badly.
“Each fishing trawler used to catch between Bt2,000 and Bt3,000 worth of squid per trip, but now they barely get five squids per trip,” he said, adding that most marine animals had either swum away or died.
According to him, there are about 1,300 small fishing trawlers in Rayong that have sustained losses of about Bt5.4 million.
Jaturas said small fishing trawlers usually travelled to a spot some 12 nautical miles from the shore and paid Bt800 for fuel per trip.
“If they have to travel farther, they will have to pay more for petrol, perhaps as much as Bt1,800 per trip,” he said.