Begged, Borrowed or Stolen, Revisited
Coming to the end of September things here have not improved as regard business, the boats are there, the fish are there, but where are the tourists.
The few boats that have ventured out report great fishing, which is normal for this time of year, but Thailand seems to be in the doldrums as everyone relying on the tourist trade will relate to. The exceptionally strong Baht, the ludicrous and confusing paperwork for travelling in Thailand, seasonal inclement weather and now the smoke haze from Indonesian fires are all having an adverse effect on our tourist figures, with the possible exception of the Chinese, who only seem to spend at the 7/11 and wander about in masks oblivious to traffic.
I recently posted to my Facebook page “Jimmy’s Drift Inn & Big Game Fishing” a lot of scenic pictures which I entitled “Begged, Borrowed or Stolen” this was so well received I thought I might try it again here in my blog as our beautiful scenery is so often overlooked when enthusing about fishing, so here goes (with a little extra help from Jesse Van Es, our resident National Park lurker):-
I sincerely hope you enjoyed these pics, all from here in the South of Thailand.
As usual, tight lines to all.
Hi once again my fellow fisheroos.
August’s inclement weather and the shortage of tourist anglers meant there was not a lot of local action. On average I managed to get out about once a week between weather fronts and can report mediocre fishing with Tuna being caught in single figures, although for the real enthusiast, luckily, there was always “something special” caught on our return trips, two single Wahoo, a King Mack, a Sail and a pair of Dorado satisfactorily and individually finished each trip.
The weather reports have also been a bit inaccurate, as the fronts seem to be moving faster than predicted, and while I’m in a grumpy mood – what about the proposed building of a supermarket on James Bond Island? 007 / 11 indeed J
Last month’s excitement came from the sinking, at its moorings, of Mena 1 but it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good as I have been assured that she will be back, at the end of this month, better than ever with GPS, a new generator and a full refit. Apparently negligence was the cause of the accident and this is the third report of poor seamanship I have been made aware of in the last month with the other two being downright dangerous to life and limb. Although I am not prepared to go into detail, it is my considered opinion our local Thai “captains” while having intimate knowledge of the area are very often not up to accepted international standards in seamanship, boat handling and/or trip preparation. While the language barrier can be a problem, a course in interpersonal relations would not go amiss either. Yes, there’s the right way, the wrong way and the Thai way.
As things were quiet my other half decided to pull the ring through my nose and have a quick holiday, so off we went to Chumphon which was a real eye opener. While the place itself is a quiet delight, half the price of Phuket and well worth visiting, I was advised fishing in the Gulf of Thailand is now 12% of what it was in its heyday. Wearing our tourist hats, we visited Chumphon’s very busy landing docks and saw many, many tons of fish no bigger than 6 inches being unloaded from a continual queue of large trawlers, which once again led me to think about the plight of the poor old Andaman Sea, as I hear the trawling fleet is once again being expanded.
As usual, tight lines to all.
Having read recent articles in the media regarding the Rawai Sea Gypsies, this month’s article is only vaguely fishing related, being about the plight of the people who taught me all I know about the Andaman Sea and still continue to educate and amaze me, The Rawai Sea Gypsies.
Many readers may have noticed that recently they have been receiving a very poor press for damaging coral and selling undersize fish. We are being told the damage to the coral is the Gypsies fault and the diminishing fish stocks are because they take undersize fish. NONSENSE !!!!
Firstly this is their ancestral home and they have stayed here, living off the sea, for millennia, prior to the environment problems we suffer now, and even before there was a Thai population on the island.
It does not surprise me that when their “prime” land is under threat from “money hungry” developers they are now being given a bad press in order to minimize their rights to to the valuable land which they have inhabited for over 200 possibly 2,000 years, an un-provable fact because unfortunately their language cannot be written and therefore they have no reliable records. Unlike normal Buddhists the Gypsies bury their dead and have a graveyard dating back around 250 years which I would submit is credible proof of their history in Rawai.
I personally have been offered some of the land they occupy by no less than three individuals showing 3 different Chanoots all covering the same piece of land that I was considering. Namely a large building just beyond the Rawai “Gypsy” Village which I wanted to develop into a dormitory unit for international university students who wished to study the Andaman Sea, the nursery of the India Ocean, as part of their Marine Biology course,
Having drawn a blank on purchasing the land / property which has been lying vacant for a considerable number of years I approached the Marine Biology department by letter, suggesting that they, with my assistance, take over the building and working in conjunction with the Gypsies use it as a residential block for students from all around the world to study their chosen subject. I never received a reply!!!
I thought environmentally was a excellent proposal, because, as I intimated in the letter :-
1. It would teach the Gypsies, and their many visitors, conservation and how to run a sustainable under sea environment while making them more financially secure, less vulnerable to exploitation.
2. It may also help to educate the diving population not to destroy their fish traps, which I do accept catch coral fish. But please remember the metal in the Gypsies traps lasts only approximately 5 months but the frame, made of Mangrove wood, is the basis of many of the local coral reefs. These man-made but natural hollow structures are colonized by the coral and are ideal for the protection of many juvenile corral species. The same traps, which divers destroy in the name of the environment while literary taking the food from the Gypsies mouths. The same tourists who cause more environmental damage, just by getting here.
3. If you are an impoverished section of society you make a living where you can and while I do not condone the deliberate destruction of coral, the guilty party is not the Gypsies but the company who paid them to make a meager living, while running away with a handsome profit by showing non-swimming tourists a walking tour of “one” of our many coral reefs.
4. To the Department of Marine Conservation I would say. “You cannot change the way the Gypsies operate as they have done for centuries by legislation, with similar laws and regulations that relate to the fishing fleets, which have an immeasurably greater impact on the coral and the diminishing fishing stocks.”
5. Why not educate the Gypsies to be more environmentally friendly. My proposal would keep the village as a major tourist attraction with The Gypsy Village intact as a “living” historical monument. The Gypsies could earn a living by looking after students, taking out investigational teams and finding samples, etc.
They might not be well educated but these beautiful people know the local waters and what is in it better than anyone on the planet.
6. Does anyone really believe the decline in fish over the past decade is due to the Gypsies? I think not, how about all the fishing nets the Gypsies and I have pulled onboard to save other vessels “speed boats” from damage, the same nets the diving companies clear from the coral at the beginning of every season plus all the bags and refuse deposited from the same source.
As well as being accused of destroying coral, under orders from their employers, the Gypsies they have also been accused of selling undersize and protected “reef” fish at their market. Is anyone seriously considering banning their fish traps which are the mainstay of the Gypsies financial and food source? To me all these accusations, at this particular time is an attempt to demonize the Gypsies when their land is under threat from powerful developers, to me the timing of this attack seems to be much more than mere coincidence.
Phuket International Sports-fishing Tournament: the secret of (El) Dorado
Hi once again my fellow Ofishinadoes.
P.I.S.T. The Phuket International Sports-fishing Tournament
Well P.I.S.T. 2012 got off with its usual bang from the starters firework although many of the boats on the first day reported fishing was a bit of a damp squib. I was even said to me by a friend who knows I write for the P.N. “It will take a cunning linguist to make this sound exciting.” And initially I was a bit worried.
For the past few weeks following the annual beach “clean-up” the waters around Phuket have had an inordinate amount of flotsam including trees, one of which I managed to hit, plastic galore and flip-flips (flip- flops for the one legged), which most boats blamed for their poor performance, but as any experienced Big Game fisheroo will tell you flotsam is good for catching Dorado as they like to assemble around what many would consider rubbish. The RBFC team, after a poor start, took advantage of this knowledge and landed 24 Dorado in 2.1/2 hours.
Bull Dorado being the most aggressive normally are the first to strike but it’s always worth hanging around as Mahi- Mahi or Dolphin Fish, as this world traveler is often called, mostly travel in pairs and the females can be almost suicidal when the male has disappeared, unlike my Missus, who would be off to the insurance people, toot sweet.
On the competition, Thai2On released 3 Sail Fish and the biggest thing landed was an impressive 15k Wahoo, a local prize winner if I ever saw one, not like the miniscule Rainbow Runner brought in by “The Rawai Pla Boyz” on the hope of no one else bringing one in. This was even smaller than our “PGFC team’s” embarrassingly small Queen Fish brought in for exactly the same reason.
Once the boats had adapted to the conditions catches improved quite dramatically and Peter Pauli and the Captain Hook Team won the biggest overall catch. Well done guys.
The trophies this year were, by far, the most impressive yet and the fishing competition with the world’s best name P.I.S.T. came to a very successful conclusion thanks to Uwe Schittek and his organizational team, and while on the subject of names, the ladies from Texas “The Deadliest Snatch” on their annual fishing pilgrimage also steamed in with a reasonable tally.
For those not in the know regarding Andaman Sea fishing, the rules are:-
- Know your “hot-spots”.
- Watch for fish jumping, which is a bit of an art, as the Andaman Sea with its weird tided loves to imitate this phenomenon.
- Look out for Frigate / Pirate Birds. These bent- winged, V tailed, toe-rags of the air, when congregating and diving are a great sign of fish. – This week’s quiz :- What do you call a flock of Frigates – a flotilla?
- Last but not least, when the water conditions are scummy, look for the biggest concentration of flotsam because under it is liable to be Dorado by the bushel, the tastiest and fastest growing fish around.
First posted in the Phuket News