Thai­land rushes to fix il­le­gal fish­ing af­ter EU threat­ens to ban its seafood

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Thai of­fi­cials said they were rush­ing to crack down on il­le­gal and un­reg­u­lated fish­ing in a bid to avoid the Euro­pean Union’s threat to ban seafood im­port from the coun­try.

The EU on Tues­day gave Thai­land, the third- largest seafood ex­porter, six months to dras­ti­cally com­bat il­le­gal and un­reg­u­lated fish­ing or face a seafood im­port ban.

Thai­land is a ma­jor ex­porter of seafood, with yearly rev­enues of al­most 5 bil­lion eu­ros (NT$167 bil­lion; US$5.4 bil­lion), and an EU ban — a “red card” — would se­ri­ously af­fect the in­dus­try. An­nual ex­ports to the EU are es­ti­mated to be worth be­tween 575 mil­lion and 730 mil­lion eu­ros.

The EU lifted the threat of sim­i­lar ac­tion against South Korea and the Philip­pines.

Thai­land’s Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Petipong Pung­bun Na Ayud­hya said the min­istry was seek­ing a short­cut to speed up the en­force­ment of the re­cently passed law reg­u­lat­ing the coun­try’s fish­ing. The law has been passed by the junta- ap­pointed leg­is­la­ture but has not taken ef­fect.

“We are con­sid­er­ing ei­ther to is­sue a de­cree, or to ex­er­cise the power un­der Ar­ti­cle 44 to speed up the en­force­ment of the (new) law be­cause we only have 180 days to work on this,” Petipong told re­porters at a news con­fer­ence.

Ar­ti­cle 44 in the mil­i­tary­im­posed in­terim con­sti­tu­tion gives the junta sweep­ing pow­ers to over­ride any branch of gov­ern­ment to pro­mote public or­der and unity. The mil­i­tary took power from a civil­ian gov­ern­ment in last May’s coup and has in­voked the con­tro­ver­sial ar­ti­cle a few times to by­pass the nor­mal law.

Apart from law en­force­ment, the Thai au­thor­i­ties will im­ple­ment other mea­sures such as a ves­sel mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem that can trace the fish­ing boats.

“The most im­por­tant thing is to make the fish­er­men — our broth­ers and sis­ters — and the busi­nesses un­der­stand,” Petipong said. “Over­all, I am quite con­fi­dent that we can solve the prob­lems.”

Petipong said the “yel­low card” warn­ing will not have an im­me­di­ate ef­fect on the Thai fish­ing in­dus­try but said the coun­try could lose at least US$924 mil­lion (NT$28.49 bil­lion) of rev­enues if the EU is­sues a ban.

Ac­cord­ing to Petipong, the Euro­pean Union did not ex­press con­cerns about slav­ery in the Thai fish­ing in­dus­try, which Thai­land also says it is work­ing to com­bat. A re­cent AP in­ves­ti­ga­tion found hun­dreds of slaves on Thai boats catch­ing seafood sent to the United States and else­where.

The EU will send its first del­e­ga­tion to check on Thai­land’s progress on il­le­gal fish­ing in May.

AP

A woman sits by the ship-shaped mon­u­ment con­tain­ing mes­sages for vic­tims of the sunken ferry Se­wol off the south­ern coast, in Seoul, Wed­nes­day, April 22. South Korea on Wed­nes­day for­mally ap­proved plans to sal­vage the ferry that sank last year in one of the coun­try’s dead­li­est dis­as­ters in decades that killed more than 300 peo­ple.

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