Press Release : Special Operations by Thai Authorities to Combat IUU Fishing in Accordance with ASEAN’s Goal of Eliminating IUU Fishing News

Press Release : Special Operations by Thai Authorities to Combat IUU Fishing in Accordance with ASEAN’s Goal of Eliminating IUU Fishing

During 22 – 30 June 2019The Royal Thai Government, through the Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF), the Royal Thai Police, and the Department of Fisheries conducted two special operations to arrest fishing vessels in violation of anti-IUU fishing regulations inside Thai waters in Ranong province. The special operations were conducted by the Special Arrest Team together with officers from the Department of Fisheries, Ranong Provincial Aquatic Animals Check Point, and Ko Surin Marine Fisheries Patrol Unit (Phangnga). These resulted in the arrest of 66 fishing vessels. 
 
The first special operation resulted in the arrest of 7 vessels between 26 – 27 June 2019 for allegedly breaching Section 165 of the Royal Ordinance on Fisheries B.E. 2558 (2015) and its revision B.E. 2560 (2017), which stipulated penalties for vessels that counterfeit, conceal or falsify their unique vessel identifiers and Section 92, 95, 96, and 158 which stipulated penalties for the smuggling of aquatic animals into the kingdom without permission from the authorities. The group would face a fine of five times the value of the imported aquatic animals at P.J. raft 92/20 Village No.5 Bangrin sub-district, Mueang Ranong district, Ranong province on 26 June 2019. The suspects were arrested and the aquatic animals were seized by the inspector at the Ranong Police station for further prosecution.
 
The second special operation resulted in the arrest of 59 vessels during 22 – 30 June 2019 on the following charges: (1) sailing foreign fishing vessels in Thai waters and bringing the said vessels to port without a permission from the Department of Fisheries with reference to Section 17 of Navigation in the Thai Waters Act; Section 24 of Marine Department Announcement No. 51/2561 dated 19 March 2018; Section 9 and Section 11 of the Notification of Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives on Advance Data Reporting and Determining Ports for Non-Thai Fishing Vessels wishing to enter the Kingdom B.E. 2560 dated 9 November 2017; (2) counterfeiting, concealing or falsifying their unique vessel identifiers with reference to Section 165 of the Royal Ordinance on Fisheries B.E. 2558 (2015) and its revision B.E. 2560 (2017); (3) importing aquatic animals or aquatic animal products in the Kingdom without permission from the authorities with reference to Section 98, 95, 96 and 158 of the Royal Ordinance on Fisheries, which would lead to a fine of five times the value of the imported aquatic animals; and (4) entering into the Kingdom without permission with reference to Section 11 and Section 62 of Immigration Act B.E. 2522 (1979). At present, the competent agencies have seized and locked down the vessels at various ports in Rayong province and are considering further charges. 
 
On 6 July 2019, relevant Thai authorities led by Police Lieutenant General Jaruwat Waisaya, Chief of the Royal Thai Police's Office of Legal Affairs and Litigation, and Head of Law Enforcement Sub-Committee of the Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing, went to Ranong province to follow up on the progress of the prosecution of the 66 illegal fishing vessels which were seized as a result of the two special operations. Police Lieutenant General Waisaya commented that these operations clearly demonstrated the Thai government’s ongoing commitment towards combatting IUU fishing. The stringent enforcement of the law and regulations is reflected in the steady reduction in the number of illegal fishing cases from 3,270 cases in 2016 to 958 cases in 2017 to 574 cases in 2018 and 333 cases to date in 2019. 
 
Additionally, such operations complement Thailand’s pursuit of the ASEAN goal towards achieving sustainability. As the current ASEAN Chair, Thailand places high importance on the promotion of partnerships in the areas of sustainable fishing and marine environment conservation. Thailand also aims to eliminate the practice of IUU fishing from the region. In this vein, Thailand will also work with ASEAN Member States to implement the outcome of the ASEAN Meeting on Combating IUU Fishing in Partnership with the EU hosted by Department of Fisheries in April 2019, which aimed to establish the ASEAN IUU Network and demonstrated the ASEAN common position in addressing illegal fishing in the region.
 
With the ultimate goal of increasing the effectiveness of the control, monitoring and enforcement of anti-IUU fishing laws and regulations, the relevant Thai agencies are committed to cooperating closely with one another in full capacity. They are also ready to collaborate with other ASEAN Member States to support the establishment of the ASEAN IUU Network and to carry out its future missions. This network aims to provide (1) an accessible platform for information; and (2) a channel of communication between law enforcement authorities and other relevant governmental agencies responsible for combatting IUU fishing. Once established, this network will facilitate the exchange of information between flag states, port states, coastal states and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs). It will also enable the exchange of information on domestic and international laws and regulations, port state measures and fisheries management measures. Furthermore, the network will assist with the capacity building of officials and the development of tools and technologies for investigations and data analysis leading to successful gathering of IUU fishing evidence. This will help improve the monitoring, control and surveillance capacity of ASEAN competent agencies, and lead to further cooperation in the fight against IUU fishing at both national and regional levels.