South Thailand Projects to Aid Region's Seafood Production, Including Surimi
The Federation of Thai Industries in the South opened talks with the government late last week to prioritize seafood-related projects that support the region's fish-processing industry. Two projects highlighted are the Satun seaport and creation of artificial coral reefs.
Under Thaksin Sinawatra's leadership, the central government launched the Satun seaport project, linking Andaman Sea's Satun seaport in the Pak Para district to the Gulf of Thailand through the Chana seaport in Songkhla. The project aims to shorten the travel distance to boost the Southern provinces' economies. Fourteen provinces in the South consistently average 2 to 3 percent annual growth, compared with the national average of 4 percent.
But the $82.5 million project was halted when Sinawatra was overthrown in 2006. Thawee Piyapatana, chairman of the federation, has urged the government to resume the project that already has a $13 million feasibility study tied to it.
Piyapatana stated that fishing restrictions and the high cost of green oil in the South had forced 10,000 trawlers in Samut Sakhon, Songkhla and Pattani provinces to stay at the docks.
Piyapatana also suggests that Samak Sundaravej, the country's interim prime minister, approach the Indonesian government, as well as other neighboring countries, for fishing concessions.
The Federation also has recommended that artificial coral reefs be installed to encourage fish populations to inhabit Southern waters and increase the future seafood supply.
The most popular product from Southern Thailand's fish processing industry is surimi. The industry gets its fish locally and also uses Alaskan pollock. While the local seafood supply has obviously declined, the price of pollock also has increased 30 to 40 percent from last year.
Piyapatana, the managing director of Pacific Fish Processing, predicts a decline in surimi production from Southern Thailand this year to an estimated 120,000 tons, down from last year's 150,000 tons.