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The rust bucket that did a runner from Sea Shepherd at anchor off Phuket

Phuket Pursued Poacher Ship Could Sail With New Captain Any Time

Thursday, July 2, 2015
PHUKET: The epic pursuit of marine poachers by the Sea Shepherd has taken a new turn in Thailand with the ship that took an illegal haul of toothfish before fleeing from Antarctic waters set to regain its cargo and sail on.

The ancient vessel Taishan, at present anchored off Phuket, has a new captain and preparations are being made to depart, Phuketwan learned this week.

Its cargo of 182 tonnes of illegal toothfish, being stored in the south Thailand province of Songkhla, is likely to be trucked back to Phuket and reloaded onto the ship before it sails, officials say they have been told.

In a dramatic chase earlier this year, a Sea Shepherd vessel shadowed the Taishan from Antarctic waters until it was forced to a halt off Thailand, where local authorities intervened.

Now the grand game with huge amounts of valuable fish at stake is about to begin again, officials in Thailand believe.

Originally destined for Hong Kong, news that the protected toothfish may soon be on the move once more is likely to trigger a reaction from international conservationists.

Back in March, the Taichan - a ship that is regularly renamed and was previously a rustbucket known as the Kunlun - entered Thai waters. Customs officials were told it carried a cargo of sea bass.

'Inspection showed they were lying,'' the Customs official said. ''The cargo is toothfish [also known as snowfish].''

The apprehension of the vessel came about in a strange fashion - and the future of the toothfish could become even stranger.

It's believed the Command Centre for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF), recently created to deal with illegal fishing in Thailand, may not be able to act because the incident preceded the centre's creation.

When the Taichan arrived of Thailand it was to deliver to hospital a Spanish crewman who had attempted suicide. He was treated and flew home several days later.

By halting off Phuket, the ship and its illegal cargo appeared to be on a suicide mission of its own. However, a brokerage service carried the cargo south to Songkhla where about 10 million baht has been handed over in the time it has been in storage.

Officials on Phuket questioned the qualifications of the Peruvian captain, who has since flown home and been replaced by a Spanish captain, who meets the standards.

The vessel claimed to be Indonesian-registered, but officials at the Indonesia embassy found this wasn't true and ordered the 21 crew not to work on the ship.

However, the vessel is not on a blacklist at Immigration and in theory, could sail with a new crew once its cargo reloaded at any time.

Meanwhile, the Taishan remains bobbing off Phuket's deep sea port, with just a skeleton crew and its new captain.

Comments

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Fishy indeed

Posted by Michael on July 2, 2015 09:53

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"Its cargo of 182 tonnes of illegal toothfish".

If illegal how can they get it back?

Or is this another Thai Mystery?

Posted by Tbs on July 2, 2015 14:38

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I lovely article about thai way of handling things. make things unclear, talk around the bush, complicate in such a way that it becomes complicated.
Than thai become "helpful" when they see bahts. At the end of the day, this vessel is leaving after reloading the illegal fished stock. How much more thai we can be. And probably thinking to get away with it while thai fishing is so much in observation.

Posted by Kurt on July 2, 2015 14:48

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After all fishing violations and lying about cargo, thai immigration and thai customs just say ( because) with a new captain, can reload the illegal fishing stock and depart? Just like that?

Posted by Kurt on July 2, 2015 15:08

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Where is Sue these days? Guys stop moaning please if you don't like Thailand you can leave, or if articles on PW offend you do not read them, too easy!

Posted by I am pretty far from ok on July 2, 2015 16:48

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Stick to the law, or the law will stick to you. My heart pumps Durians for your many many years of poaching.
Shame now cannot fish, you are illegal.
Sum num naa.
Well done PM for taking a stand.

Posted by Robin on July 2, 2015 17:16

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IAPFFOK,
I am also concerned about Sue's absence.
It was a toss up between one of the activists currently in detention or she tried to leave Japan with a firearm in his bag. I couldn't imagine Sue hiding from 30,000 face book fans.

Posted by MoW on July 2, 2015 18:42

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I hope Thailand loses the Euro rights obviously doesn't respect any regulations. That will hurt them in the pocket then they may listen

Posted by Michael on July 2, 2015 19:09


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