Mon, Mar 23, 2009
The Nation/Asia News Network
Thailand dugongs hunted and smuggled to Singapore

Trang's fishermen have asked the government to strictly control the illegal dugong trade after they found many foreign mariners hunting the animals and smuggling them out to Singapore for Bt50,000 (S$2130) each, villager leader IsmaAnn Ben SaArd said.

The illegal hunt is being carried out by foreign fishermen especially from Satun province. They throw bombs into cairns or near coral reefs, with the resulting explosion towing up many fish, he added.

IsmaAnn explained that some wayward local fishermen have pointed out the area to foreign fishermen.

25 killed in a month

Moreover, they also use seine and large fishing nets to hunt stingray and other kinds of fish two kilometers from the coast. They use a local fishhook called "Rawai" to hunt dugong, killing more than 25 of the creatures during the past month alone.

Trang authorities have announced that Rawai is an illegal piece of fishing equipment for it endangers dugong and sea turtles.

He said each dugong commands a price of Bt50,000 (S$2130) on the black market, with its bones and teeth going for Bt30,000 (S$1278). Singapore is the biggest market for this trade. The country uses the dead dugong to produce medicine and amulets. --The Nation/ Asia News Network

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