Thailand is currently one of the ten largest fishing nations in the world. In 1996, fish production reached 3.7 million t with 90% of the production coming from the marine fisheries sector and 10% from inland fisheries. Thai fishing operates in four fishing grounds namely, the Gulf of Thailand, the Andaman Sea, the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal. However with the establishment of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 1977, Thailand lost over 300 000 km2 of traditional fishing grounds.
The biomass of 40 ecological groups, the diet composition of prey and predators, production/biomass (P/B) and consumption/biomass (Q/B) ratios, and catches were used as basic input to parameterize an Ecopath model of the Gulf of Thailand. Following construction of a mass-balance ecosystem model, a time-dynamic simulation model (Ecosim) was used to simulate the impact of change in fishing effort. This was done using time series data to validate the historic fisheries development in the Gulf of Thailand prior to using the model for forward-looking simulations.
Fisheries are an important source of animal protein for most of Thailand’s population, particularly in provinces on or near the coast. Between 1978 and 1997 the per capita consumption of fish averaged 24 kg·capita-1 annually. In 1995, about 535 210 people were involved in the fisheries sector and 44% of these were engaged in small scale marine capture fisheries. Since 1982, Thailand has faced problems with the development of marine capture fisheries and their over-exploitation which has increased fishery conflicts and disputes with neighboring countries.
The 1995 trawl data of the research vessels Pramong 2 and 9 in the Gulf of Thailand were analyzed using TWINSPAN and DCA. Four main station clusters were identified related to geographic location and depth. Two clusters are associated with shallow water areas and the other two clusters are found in deeper areas with water depths > 30 m. Temporal analysis indicates clustering of monthly data into wet and dry seasons. Examination of species abundance data indicates that the seasonality may not be very pronounced.
South-East Asia has traditionally been the global centre of production of tropical sea cucumbers for Chinese markets. Early research into culture methods took place outside this region, notably in India, the Pacific region and China. However, recent investment in Holothuria scabra (sandfish) culture has led to some significant advances within this region. The Philippines and Vietnam have been at the forefront of recent efforts, with involvement from substantial national programs and local institutions as well as international donors and scientific organisations.