Cabi­net ‘near to IUU-free dec­la­ra­tion’

Bangkok Post - - NATIONAL - WASSANA NANUAM

The cabi­net will soon be asked to for­mally de­clare Thai­land free of Il­le­gal, Un­re­ported, and Un­reg­u­lated (IUU) fish­ing, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Chatchai Sarikulya says.

Thai­land has ratch­eted up ef­forts to tackle IUU fish­ing af­ter the Euro­pean Union (EU) gave the coun­try a “yel­low” card, or fi­nal warn­ing, in 2015 for fail­ing to ef­fec­tively stop IUU fish­ing prac­tices.

A ban on pro­cessed seafood ex­ports to Europe is likely if the EU even­tu­ally de­cides the coun­try has failed to rec­tify th­ese short­com­ings.

Speak­ing about ef­forts to deal with the prob­lem, Gen Chatchai said Thai del­e­ga­tions have been sent to talk to EU of­fi­cials from time to time about the coun­try’s ef­forts to com­bat il­le­gal fish­ing and the last meet­ing took place on Dec 18.

A tele­con­fer­ence was also held on Feb 7, when Thai of­fi­cials pro­vided an up­date on le­gal mea­sures in con­nec­tion with anti-IUU op­er­a­tions, the deputy premier said, adding that re­lated laws could be rolled out by the end of the month.

“On Jan 25, the na­tional strat­egy com­mit­tee agreed that the coun­try should an­nounce it is free of IUU fish­ing prac­tices,” said Gen Chatchai, adding he would bring the is­sue to the cabi­net for con­sid­er­a­tion.

Still, to make this move ac­cept­able in­ter­na­tion­ally, Thai­land needs to con­sult with the EU to de­ter­mine the re­quire­ments needed to be of­fi­cially “IUU-free”. For in­stance, catches im­ported into Thai­land must also be cer­ti­fied IUU fish­ingfree, and that fish must be caught in only au­tho­rised zones with­out de­struc­tive fish­ing equip­ment.

Work­ers in the fish­ing in­dus­try must be legally doc­u­mented, he said.

“This is to make it clear Thai­land’s ob­jec­tive is to be an IUU-free na­tion,” Gen Chatchai said.

Be­fore declar­ing our­selves IUU free, third par­ties from whom Thai­land im­ports fish prod­ucts must be con­tacted for their co­op­er­a­tion, he said, adding talks have been held with the Korean and Tai­wanese of­fi­cials about the mat­ter, while Ja­pan and other coun­tries, which ex­port to Thai­land, would be ap­proached next.

This is a proac­tive ap­proach to make the EU re­alise that Thai­land is pay­ing se­ri­ous at­ten­tion to en­sur­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of the na­tion’s fish­eries with a tar­get of mak­ing it IUU free.

Speak­ing af­ter a meet­ing of the fifth na­tional re­form steer­ing com­mit­tee on state ad­min­is­tra­tion yes­ter­day, de­fence spokesman Kongcheep Tantra­vanich said six laws in con­nec­tion with the trans­port of aquatic an­i­mals have been amended and will be en­acted late this month.

Re­fer­ring to ef­forts to deal with il­le­gal trawlers, he said 79 cases had reached the courts, with 65% of them hav­ing reached a con­clu­sion, Lt Gen Kongcheep said.

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