Cabinet ‘near to IUU-free declaration’
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.