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Firms in anti-trafficking pledge

  • Category: News Clip
  • Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 June 2015 02:50
  • Published: Wednesday, 17 June 2015 02:50
  • Hits: 1119

• 17 Jun 2015 at 03:30 346 viewed0 comments

Seafood companies say they are ready to undergo inspections by any international organisation over their handling of illegal fishing and human trafficking.
They also expressed a commitment to continue working closely with Thai authorities in seriously tackling the issues even if Thailand is removed from Tier 3 of the US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.

Rittirong Boonmechote, president for the global shrimp business at Thai Union Frozen Products Plc, said the company and other seafood producers would lend full support to the government to tackle illegal fishing and human trafficking in order to retain the US and EU as major markets.
He said trafficking and illegal fishing cases in recent years provided an opportunity for Thailand to clean up its image, improve the standard of the fishing and frozen food industries and upgrade its laws and regulations to be in line with the changing world.
"This is a good opportunity for Thailand to fix all the problems. We, the business sector, have to say thank you to the prime minister and the government agencies working hard to help solve the problem," Mr Rittirong said.
Thailand was given a yellow card by the EU, which demanded the country clean up all illegal fishing as well as human trafficking in its fishing business.
Thailand was also downgraded by the US from Tier 2 to the lowest rank of Tier 3 in the TIP report last year.
The cases were expected to substantially tarnish the reputation of Thai food in two major export markets.
Although no official figures are available, international agencies estimate that Thailand's US$8-billion (270 billion baht) frozen food industry employs some 300,000 workers.
Mr Rittirong said although cases had not been finalised by the US and EU, the situation had already had a negative effect on the Thai food industry and exports.
"Several food-exporting countries including Japan, South Korea and the Philippines were also given yellow cards," he said.
"However, Thailand needs to do its best to stop them from giving a red card to us. This should be a major concern, otherwise there will be a serious problem for Thai food exports eventually.
"We hope the US and EU will finally understand we've worked very hard to meet their standards."
Viboon Supakarapongkul, executive vice-president for seafood at Charoen Pokphand Foods Plc, said the company had used all means to work with the government to clean up all the problems and meet standards.
"Our company is ready to support all government measures to help improve the country's image on the world food market, as we're a big player," he said.
"We don't know for sure how long the Tier 3 and yellow card measures will last, but we know that we are trying very hard to slash all problems in order to meet their standards."
Poj Aramwattananont, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association and vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the private sector fully supported the government in amending the Fisheries Act and Human Trafficking Act in tackling the issues and vowed to stop purchasing marine products from illegal fishing vessels.
He also called on all parties throughout the entire seafood supply chain to adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability in achieving sustainability in all sectors of the seafood industry.

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