6 Frenchmen held in Phuket for catching protected parrotfish

A HAPPY fishing trip turned into a disaster for 6 Frenchmen who were hauled in for catching protected parrotfish smaller than 50 centimeters off Phuket yesterday, the Thai-language daily Matichon said today (Jan. 19).

At 2.20 pm yesterday Chalong police station head Pol. Col. Prachum Ruengthong, together with crime suppression inspector Pol. Col.  Yothin Chankong, arrested Mr Daniel Albert, 71, Mr Patrice Jacques Comte, 65, Mr Jean Jacques  Pierre, 61, Mr Didier Tapin, 61, Mr Le Cort Andre, 65, and Mr Werner Claudette, 66.

Seized from them were 8 parrotfish not longer than 50 centimeters and 5 spear guns.

The police officers said that a policeman went on a patrol and was tipped off that some foreign tourists had used spear guns to fish near Koh Kaew Yai island off Rawai beach.

The policeman rushed to the beach and brought  the foreign tourists in for questioning after finding that they had a small catch of 8 parrotfish with them on a long-tail boat full of passengers.

They were later charged with trapping and killing rare sea animals as required by the law. This offense under Section 45 and Sub-Section 100 of the Environmental Protection Act 2535 entails 100,000 baht fine and/or 1 year in jail.

According to an article written by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and published by Virgin.com, parrotfish eat algae and dead coral.  They spend up to 90% of their day nibbling. In other words, they clean the reef. This is important because most of the reefs in the Caribbean (and elsewhere across the tropics) are being smothered by algae because there are not enough parrotfish and other herbivores out there grazing.

Queen parrotfish eating algae Photo S. Bysshe_0

After all that eating, get this: They poop fine white sand – lots of it! Each parrotfish produces up to 320 kilograms (700 pounds) of sand each year.

They have delightfully garish fashion sense. Parrotfish are a big part of what makes scuba diving so colorful. Each species has a different color scheme, and they change their “outfits” as they go from babies, to adolescents, to adults.


Top: The Frenchmen being questioned at Chalong police station. Photo: Matichon

In-text: Queen parrotfish eating algae. Photo by S. Bysshe and published by Virgin.com