Protest against fishing ban in local swamp in Thailand

Thai fishing boats. Photo by the Pattaya Mail. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

CHAIYAPHUM, Jul 29, 2020, Bangkok Post. About 200 villagers from tambon Lahan in Chaturat district rallied at a shrine beside Bung Lahan swamp in protest at being barred from fishing and collecting produce there since it was declared a game reserve by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation in 2009, Bangkok Post reported.

The rally was led by Banyen Prompakdi, mayor of the tambon Lahan municipality, and Thanet Sumontha, the kamnan of tambon Lahan, and other local leaders.

Bung Lahan is a natural swamp of about 20,000 rai about 190 metres above the mean sea level in tambon Lahan. The demonstrators said that since, was declared a game reserve in 2009 their way of life had changed.

Its declaration as a game reserve was based on a 2001 study which found it was a natural habitat of 53 species of birds, 52 of them listed as protected. Some of the birds were migratory.

Since 2009 local people have been prohibited from making use of natural resources and fishing in the swamp, which is home to a variety of fish, because they might scare away the birds.

The villagers said Bung Lahan had been a lifeline of local people, who had made their living fishing there for more than 100 years. Now, anyone caught fishing in the swamp was arrested and their gear confiscated.

The fishing ban had made life hard for more than 1,000 households, they said.

They were also barred from going into the swamp by boat to gather wild vegetables.

The villagers said their representatives would travel to Bangkok to submit a letter to the director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and their MPs in the House of Representatives, calling for the “game reserve” status of Bung Lahan to be lifted, so that it could again be a source of their food and they could resume a normal way of life.

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