Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom will check out a proposed site for a tuna fishing fleet pier at Koh Sireh, east of Phuket City, tomorrow.
In preliminary talks with Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkaosutthirak at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City today, Pramuan Rugjai, Deputy Director of the Bangkok-based Fish Marketing Organisation, said Phuket would make an ideal tuna boat hub.
''There is a clear link already between fresh seafood and tourism,'' Khun Pramuan said. ''Phuket exports 4000 tonnes of tuna each year, mostly to Japan.''
Expansion of Phuket as a fishing hub is being proposed as Phuket's diving industry continues to highlight the damage done to Thailand's coral reefs by illegal fishing and the dropping of nets.
Although an annual cleanup by volunteer divers removes hundreds of kilos of netting and other waste from Phuket's reefs, the day's outing does nothing to address the problem.
Talks are urgently required between Phuket's fishing and diving industries and enforcement of existing laws protecting marine life is also urgently required.
Problems being experienced by Andaman coast divers in Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga should be explained carefully to Commerce Minister Boonsong.
Joe Blasy, who is one of the Go Eco Phuket Conservation Group and a dive instructor with Sea Bees Diving, has supplied photographs to Phuketwan that he says show a net dropped just days ago on protected Shark Point.
''This is illegal in two different ways,'' he says. ''Gill nets are not allowed on reefs full stop in Thailand, plus Shark Point is a marine sanctuary.
''It's very concerning when fishing nets are literally dropped on top of you while diving in a marine sanctuary, which is supposed to have legal protection from this kind of thing.
''It not only destroys corals which can take decades to grow, it can get entangled on divers.
''Gill nets are almost invisible. They capture and kill anything that gets caught it them, including endangered turtles, sharks and rays.''
Mr Blasy said divers have recently reported seeing the gill nets being laid out in the evenings around Shark Point and Anemone Reef, ''both of which were granted marine sanctuary status in 1991, which is supposed to protect them from commercial fishing activities.''
Shark Point is not far from Phi Phi, off Phuket's east coast.
Mr Blasy said the recent incident has occured ''just weeks after divers found, and removed, a large trawlers net which had become entangled on Shark Point No. 3.''
''What is clear is that Phuket's premier dive site is under attack by illegal commercial fishing which continues completely unchecked.
''After diving and trying to protect these reefs for 12 years, it is a very depressing thing to see.''