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Channel News Asia - EU to re-evaluate Thailand's performance in combatting illegal fishing

  • Category: News Clip
  • Last Updated: Monday, 25 May 2015 04:33
  • Published: Monday, 25 May 2015 04:13
  • Hits: 887

Representatives from the European Union visit Bangkok on Wednesday to re-evaluate Thailand's performance in tackling illegal fishing, after it warned the country of possible sanctions on the multimillion-dollar seafood trade last month.

    By Panu Wongcha-um, Channel NewsAsia
    POSTED: 20 May 2015 13:14 UPDATED: 20 May 2015 16:55

BANGKOK: Representatives from the European Union are travelling to Bangkok on Wednesday (May 20) to re-examine how much Thailand has done to stop illegal fishing.

In April, the EU gave the Southeast Asian kingdom a yellow card for its failure to solve the problem and warned that sanctions on Thai seafood imports could ensue if the country did not clean up illegal fishing practices within six months. Currently, the seafood trade between Thailand and the EU is worth US$500 million to US$700 million each year.

In response, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha tasked the Royal Thai Navy with a new responsibility of tackling illegal fishing, which resulted in a new control centre being set up at the Navy's headquarters.

From here, the Navy supervises the coordination between relevant agencies and fishing ports nationwide in their fight to end illegal fishing.

“We have to coordinate with 28 ports through our control centres, other agencies operating on the ground, and 22 fishing centres in coastal provinces. We also need to share these information daily,” said Captain Jumpol Nakbua from the Office of Maritime Security Affairs under the Royal Thai Navy.

Meanwhile, the Thai government expressed its wish for Thai fishermen to install tracking systems on their boats in order to monitor locations of each boat via satellite technology.

New fishing laws were also put in place to allow authorities to prosecute any Thai boats operating without permission, even if they are in international waters. Some 7,700 Thai fishing vessels will have to get the system installed by June.

Many fishermen such as Mr Charnchai are already complaining about the cost of the installation, which is US$600 to US$900, not inclusive of a monthly fee.

“If the government pays for it, then it's okay. But if we fishermen have to bear the cost, then I think it is too expensive. Besides, I do not think it will be effective because my ship, for instance, only fish in coastal areas, not in foreign waters,” said Mr Charnchai.

Others fishermen also question the government's emphasis on the technology, saying it is not doing enough to fix the real problem, which they believe is the use of forced labour.

“The way the data is pulled up will show how the fishing boat is managed, but then there is a lot of emphasis on equipment rather than people. How is the crew going to solve problems such as improving the working conditions of fishermen?” asked Mr Sompong Srakaew, Executive Director of the Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation.

- CAN/pp

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