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Tourist boat fined for unauthorised installation of undersea aquarium

Police and harbour officials have imposed 10,000 baht fine on a tourist boat anchored off Phi Phi Island for installing undersea aquarium without licensing.

Police said the further legal proceedings would hinge on the ruling of marine park authorities.

Critics said the undersea aquarium endangers the abundant corals and marine life in the Hat NopparatThara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park.

Phi Phi Cruiser chairman NikomOcha said he had valid boat registration and proper licensing for tourism business.

Nikom said his company is based in Phuket specialising in providing excursion services for tourists between Phuket and Phi Phi.

He said he commissioned the construction of the boat in question and named it “Undersea World”.

He had sought and received valid permission to operate the flat-bottomed boat for tourism.

He modified the boat to be able to lower the enclosed, glass-windowed platform from the ship bottom into about 2-meter under water.

The platform was designed to allow sea water to flow through, hence allow the coral fish to swim in and out of the enclosure.

By using air pressure, the water level in the platform would be lowered, creating the impression of a shallow swimming pool where the tourists could swim, snorkelling and feed and play with the fish.

Critics claimed about marine park offence for using food to lure coral fish. Boat operator rebutted about feeding the fish. He admitted, however that he was previously unaware of the offence and that he would advise tourist from feeding.

He also insisted he fully complied with the law related to marine transportation and tourism.

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