The Department of Fisheries will close the southwestern part of the Gulf of Thailand for three months from large-scale commercial fishing this month, after finding a similar closure last year led to a 63% increase in mackerel in the area.
Chalermchai Suwanrak, chief of the department, revealed that the closure will ban large-scale fishing in the central section of the Gulf of Thailand in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon and Surat Thani provinces.
The policy is part of the department’s marine resources management to allow time for mackerel to breed and nurture their young. The announcement was endorsed by the department on Jan 31.
The area will also be closed for a second stint later this year.
The first period will run from Feb 15 to May 15, when a ban will be imposed on fishing gear that can potentially harm larvae and mature fish which are ready to reproduce. Fishermen who use light and non-destructive fishing gear will not be affected by the ban.
The second period will run from May 16 to June 14, with large-scale fishing to be banned from Khao Ta Mong Lai Forest Park in Muang district to Hua Hin district of Prachuap Kiri Khan province.
The measure has proved to be effective in boosting mackerel and other small commercial fish stocks in the Gulf of Thailand, said Mr Chalermchai.
According to the department, 31.9 tonnes of mackerel worth 2.1 billion baht were landed last year, an increase of 63.28% from the 19.5 tonnes of mackerel caught in 2021.
Mr Chalermchai said the amount of mackerel landed highlighted the importance of closing the sea to rehabilitate and restore stocks and ensure sustainable fishery practices.
“However, a follow-up survey conducted in 2021-2022 showed that mature mackerel of a reproductive age were found mostly from Feb 1-14, which is shortly before the sea was closed,” he said. He urged fishermen to comply with the rules.