A Dutch tourist, who was recently seen on TikTok with some parrot fish, which he allegedly caught in Thailand’s southern marine park on Phi Phi islands, has been held in custody by police and officials of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation on five charges, including illegal fishing in a national park.
Park officials said that the tourist, Roslan Benedia, who recently admitted to being a professional spearfisherman, may face imprisonment of up to five years and/or a maximum fine of 500,000 baht if convicted.
The owner of the boat, who rented it to the tourist, and the skipper are facing similar charges.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said briefly in his Facebook post today (Tuesday) that the fisherman has been arrested and the authorities are investigating the case to determine the involvement of the boat’s owner.
Director General of the Department of Environment Quality Ratchada Suriyakul Na Ayutthaya told Thai PBS that the suspect claims that he did not know that he was spearfishing in a park area. He said, however, that park officials have sufficient evidence of his alleged wrongdoing.
The suspect left Krabi province for Phuket, where he was apprehended by tourist police yesterday.
The chief of the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park described the tourist’s claim as unacceptable because, before entering the park area, every tourist must pay an entry fee and there are signs to warn tourists of park regulations in three languages.
He said that the owner and skipper of the boat have been cooperative with police and park officials during the interrogation, but they have been put on probation and their operating licenses may be temporarily suspended.
Tourist access to the Phi Phi islands and especially the famous Maya Bay and its surroundings has been limited to 375 people per hour, or 4,125 a day, to ease congestion and to protect the ecological system.