Two Fishermen Charged for Killing Dolphins for Jerky

Screenshot from a video showing dolphins being brought up on board. Image: Anuwat Fuangthongdeng / Facebook
Screenshot from a video showing dolphins being brought up on board. Image: Anuwat Fuangthongdeng / Facebook

PATTANI — Two fishermen were charged on Monday for illegal fishing after a video of them catching several dolphins in a fishing trawl sparked online outrage.

The police said Monday that the ship’s captain Thanchai Mingmit, 56, and his aide Santi Buaphut, 49, confessed to ordering their crew to slaughter four dolphins to make sun-dried meat.

The four dolphins were among 30 netted and brought on board the Malaysian-flagged, but Thai-crewed fishing boat KNF 777, which was set to sail for longtail tuna in Malaysian waters.

The pair claim that the rest of the pod was released back into the sea, but the police believe that some of the dolphins might have died from broken backs incurred from being pulled up the fishing trawl.

Police Lt. Gen. Charuwat Waisaya, from the Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing, said Monday that the police will summon both fishermen to pay fines.

The Royal Decree on Fisheries prohibits catching sea mammals and endangered species. Offenders are liable to fines of up to three million baht, but Charuwat said the exact amount will be determined by a committee.

Although the crime was committed on board a foreign ship outside of Thai territorial waters, Charuwat confirmed that charges can be pressed against the fishermen. Thailand has assumed obligations under international law to conserve and manage sustainable fisheries, which allows for the prosecution of Thai nationals under Thai law regardless of a ship’s location or flag.

Video of the original clip posted by news anchor Anuwat Fuangthongdeng, starting at 0:36.