In Focus : The European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee Praised Thailand’s Progress in Combatting IUU Fishing News

In Focus : The European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee Praised Thailand’s Progress in Combatting IUU Fishing

         On 11 July 2018, H.E. Mr. Virachai Plasai, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to the United States of America, as head of the Thai delegation, met with the Committee on Fisheries (PECH) of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. The delegation also included Mrs. Petcharat Sin-auay, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Mr. Adisorn Promthep, Director-General of the Department of Fisheries, and representatives from the Marine Department, the Royal Thai Police, and the International Labour Organization (ILO), Thailand.

          The Thai delegation reiterated the Royal Thai Government’s commitment to reform the entire fishery sector which began in 2015 as a move towards becoming an IUU-free country. Measures and mechanisms have been put in place, with their effectiveness being continuously enhanced. The important improvements include (1) legal framework: the Royal Ordinance B.E. 2558 (2015) along with more than 100 subordinate laws have completely overhauled the fishery sector from previously being open-access to limited access while taking into account the sustainability of marine resources; (2) fisheries management: measures have been taken to tackle overfishing through controls on fishing gears, the introduction of fishing days scheme, and the issuance of fishing licenses in accordance with the quantity of fish stock; (3) fleet management: the number of commercial fishing vessels has been reduced to 10,612 vessels, and measures are enforced to prevent illegal vessels from re-entering the system; (4) monitoring, control and surveillance: this is promoted through the vessel monitoring system (VMS) installed on the vessels, inspection at the Port-in Port-out Control Center, at-sea inspection, landing inspection, all of which are coordinated by the Fisheries Monitoring Center; (5) law enforcement: so far 4,448 cases have been prosecuted, along with the imposition of fines of over 400 million Thai Baht (over 10.5 million Euros), while other measures to render swift prosecution have also been introduced; and (6) traceability:  systems to trace the origin of marine animal catches from inside and outside Thailand have been placed throughout the entire chain of seafood production.

          Furthermore, Thailand’s tremendous effort to solve labour problems in the fishery sector has resulted in immense improvement in this area. The statistics on child labour and physical abuse have drastically improved. This progress is the result of the successful cooperation between Thailand and the European Union (EU), which has propelled Thailand to become a model for ASEAN and a strong partner in international ocean governance.

          Members of PECH praised Thailand’s swift progress in tackling the IUU fishing, which has been realised in only three years, and recognised Thailand’s significant endeavours in transforming the IUU fishing and illegal fishery labour practices into sustainable fishery in line with human rights principles. PECH has been following Thailand’s progress closely from the beginning and has witnessed increased positive developments. They encouraged Thailand to continue solving the remaining problems, and expressed the hope that Thailand will become the EU’s partner in combatting IUU fishing at the regional level in the future. 

          The Thai side thanked PECH for their support and useful recommendations which are encouraging to the Thai agencies that have worked tirelessly to solve the problems over the past three years.

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