Cockle Farmer On Jet Ski Fires Gun To Scare Off Rivals

Story By: Lisa-Maria Goertz, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News

An enraged cockle farmer firing shots into the air from a jet ski was snapped as he rode towards local fishermen raiding his illegal farm.

The incident took place in the southern Thai province of Surat Thani, where cockle wars are reportedly rife.

The 29-year-old man Santi Nuansaen, has been arrested and charged with shooting a firearm in a public place.

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According to local media, the fisherman told authorities he has invested 22 million BAT (56,000 GBP) to buy young cockles for his cockle breeding business in his sea farm.

Reportedly around 300 fishermen had raided what he deemed to be his territory to collect his cockles.

Images show the man on a jet ski with a gun in his hand riding across the ocean.

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Police were called and Santi was arrested and charged. He reportedly also filed a complaint with police against the farmers for stealing his property.

This is reportedly just the latest in a string of incidents in a growing cockle war between fishermen in the area who try and claim parts of the coast as their own.

Authorities in the province have spoken about the problem to local media, saying that investors are occupying huge areas of the coast off six different districts and turning them into private farms to breed bivalve or blood clam and that small-time fishermen argue that the sea is public domain and they have every right to harvest them.

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The governor of the province Witchawut Jinto gave a statement to say that the first 5.4 km (3.3 miles) off the coast is public domain and therefore anybody is entitled to fish there.

The cockle breeders reportedly build bamboo fences around the areas they have cordoned off as their territory and keep watch from raised wooden platforms.

There is believed to be at least 1000 of these wooden constructions in the province.

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The mother of Santi, identified only as Chanpen, reportedly spoke out about the incident saying that her son had invested a lot of money into the business only to see local fishermen try and harvest his cockles for free.”

A commander for the Royal navy, VAdm Samrueng Chanthaso, has said in a statement that they will dismantle the fences and huts to return these areas to the public.

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