Thailand says making progress against illegal fishing

2015-05-06 09:41

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Bangkok - Thailand has made significant headway in the fight against illegal fishing, Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula said on Wednesday, following a decision by the European Union last month to give the country six months to drastically clean up its fishing industry.

The world's third-largest seafood exporter was issued a "yellow card" by the EU and risks an embargo on its fish exports in October unless it cracks down on illegal fishing.

Thailand's annual exports to the EU are estimated to be worth between €575m and €730m.

Pridiyathorn said major weaknesses identified by the EU have been resolved, including the registration of thousands of undocumented fishing vessels.

"Every organisation has solved the important problems including boat registration and installation of vessel monitoring and traceability systems, in order to decipher where the fish comes from, what it is, which waters it was caught from and what the vessel names are," said Pridiyathorn.

Historical fishing data

A high percentage of the Thai fishing fleet is unregistered and outside government control. Thailand's fishing sector also employs thousands of migrant workers from neighbouring countries including Cambodia and Myanmar.

Some are trafficked into the country illegally.

An EU source in Thailand, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the EU's decision did not take into account the use of illegal migrant labour on Thai fishing boats.

"This is about illegal fishing vessels and fishing practices and what is known as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing," she said.

Some Thai fishermen told Reuters last month that they were sceptical the country could clean up its act in time.

Pridiyathorn admitted that Thailand was having difficulty checking historical fishing data.

"What we are having trouble with is checking records retroactively because this involves checking not only in Thailand but also with other, neighbouring countries."

An EU delegation is due to visit Thailand next week to discuss progress and action plans with the Thai government.

Read more on:    thailand

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