Southern haze keeps Trang fishermen at bay

Southern haze keeps Trang fishermen at bay

Haze blankets the Hat Yao pier in Kantang district in Trang, making Koh Libong invisible from the mainland. (Photo by Methee Muangkaew)
Haze blankets the Hat Yao pier in Kantang district in Trang, making Koh Libong invisible from the mainland. (Photo by Methee Muangkaew)

TRANG: Poor visibility from thick haze has grounded the boats of coastal fishermen in this southern province, forcing them to stay ashore for safety.

Small-scale fishermen in the southern province at Hat Yao in Kantang district have been unable to take their boats out to the sea for almost a week, with haze from Indonesian forest fires impairing visibility to 200 metres.

On normal days, Koh Lipong, about eight kilometres from the mainland, can be seen from the pier and a boat takes only 15 minutes to reach the island destination. But the island could not be seen on Monday and a boat ride has been taking three times as long for the safety of passengers.

Coastal fishermen like Asan Kaewthong and Wirote Beenmood have decided to stay home in the pier area because their boats are not equipped with GPS or other equipment to aid navigation.

They were afraid of losing their way in the smog as they could not see landmarks to guide their boats.

"Haze is so thick I can't see the island from afar," Mr Asan said on Monday. He urged the Thai government to press Indonesia to eliminate hot spots.

Mr Wirote said small boats risked losing their way home in the murky conditions. "We lost our way when haze blanketed the area in the past," Mr Wirote said.

The Pollution Control Department reported the level of PM2.5 in Muang district of Trang at 59 microgrammes per cubic metre of air on Monday, a further rise from 52 on Sunday.


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