Trang fishers oppose dugong tagging

Trang fishers oppose dugong tagging

A group Trang province fishermen has called for the scrapping of a project to tag endangered dugongs with satellite-trackable markers, fearing they might harm the animals.

Local fishermen in  Trang  disagree  with use of satellite-tagged devices on dugongs during a forum held in this southern province on Jan 7. (Photo by Methee Muangkaew)

More than 30 fishermen on Wednesday took turns in voicing their disapproval with the Marine and Coastal Resources Research Centre research project to attach satellite tags on rare dugongs to monitor the behaviour of the mammals, their sea-grass habitat and the animals' migration route in the Trang sea.

So far, the research team, comprised of Thai and Japanese biologists, has tagged only three dugongs.

The fishermen aired their views during a forum held at the Andaman Foundation in Muang district of Trang. Representatives from the Department of the National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation observed.

Issama-el Bensa-ard, a representative of the Trang fishermen's club, said the local anglers wanted the tagging project halted and talks held between locals and national-park authorities to find a way to conserve rare dugongs in Trang.

His club will step up pressure to stop the project if authorities ignore their call, he said.

Aren Phrakhong, deputy chairman of the Trang fishermen's club, insisted his group had no ulterior motive. It did not want to ask for state funding, but merely wanted a role in conserving dugongs.

Members of his club have taken care of marine resources in the Trang sea for a long time and have never received financial assistance from the state, he said Most local fishermen consider the sea and its marine resources their home, he added.

Manot Wongsureerat, chief of Hat Chao Mai national park in Trang, defended the tagging project, saying more studies had been conducted on use of tags on dugongs and found this method was accepted by many countries.

About 20 million baht has been allocated for the satellite-based tagging project, he said, adding it was worthwhile and useful, as it enabled officials to know the life circle of dugongs in a bid to find ways to conserve them.


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