Thailand: Trang fishermen deny dugong-hunting claims

Kanita Seetong The Nation 18 Oct 17;

Conservationists and fishermen in Trang province have denied claims that dugong hunters are active in their area. They have demanded that Thanya Netithammakun, who heads the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, either substantiate these claims with evidence or provide further explanation.

These claims, they said, tarnished their credibility despite their ongoing and serious efforts to protect wildlife and the environment in the area. Earlier, Thanya said dugongs were hunted and killed for their meat, tusks and bones. Dugong meat is sold as food at Bt150 per kilogram, and tusks and bones are used for amulet making, he said. Thanya also claimed that dugong meat was available on Libong island, upsetting the network of conservation groups and local fishermen in Trang.

These locals say that dugong hunting has not existed in their areas since 1993. “We have strongly opposed such hunting. During the past 20 years, we have never seen anyone hunting dugongs in our province’s seawaters,” a local conservationist said.

He said that local dugong population had been shrinking in recent years only because of illegal fishing tools. According to him, more than five dugongs sustained fatal wounds from fishing tools each year in Trang. If Thanya really had evidence to support his claims, the locals wanted him to take action against those involved in dugong hunting, he said.

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