Fishermen after the oil spill: want healthy seas

31 January, 2022

Fishermen risk being left without income and with damaged fish stocks after the oil spill that occurred near the coast of Rayong province in eastern Thailand on Tuesday.

Thailand Oil Spill
Work continues to clean up the coastline after the oil spill. The picture was taken at Mae Ram Phueng beach on Saturday. Photo: Nava Sangthong/AP/TT

The country’s navy is trying to clean up the leak of nearly 60 tonnes of crude oil from a pipeline about two miles off the coast. Usually there are lots of fishing boats in the area, but now it is almost empty.

The authorities have declared Mae Ram Phueng beach a disaster zone and have closed it to bathers. Instead, yellow-clad people clean the beach.

Long time

Many fishermen remember how long it took to achieve economic and environmental recovery after another oil spill there in 2013.

At the time, the original compensation after the accident was the equivalent of almost SEK 8,500.

– I don’t want compensation. I want a healthy sea where I can work for a living,” says fisherman Teum.

– The sea can give us money every day. The sea has been good in recent years. I don’t know how many years it will take before it’s good again.

A fishing boat monitored by AFP news agency on Sunday caught about 10 percent of its normal catch, and many fish were dead.

51 square kilometres

Marine scientist Thanomsak Boonphakdee, who took water samples at the beach over the weekend, says it will take a long time to make a full assessment of the damage to the environment after the spill. After the 2013 leak, it took at least five years for marine life to recover, he says.

Satellite images show that the oil leak had spread over a 51 square kilometre area by Sunday, according to local media.

There are also concerns that a national park that includes the tourist destination of Koh Samet may be affected by the accident.

From 1974 to the present, 240 oil spills have been reported in Thailand, according to Greenpeace.

Text: TT
Photo: Nava Sangthong/AP/TT

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