By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Jaruwat Vaisaya, acting commissioner of the office of legal affairs and litigation at the Royal Thai Police, told The Nation yesterday that the Thai government was also strictly enforcing the laws and imposing punishments so that no one could exploit fishery resources without concern for human rights or caring for the sustainability of fishery resources.
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has tightened the penalty for those breaking the fishery act.
Jaruwat, who also chairs the subcommittee for inspecting, following up and litigating cases under the Command Centre for Combating Illegal Fishing, said the NCPO order will increase the government’s efficiency in punishing and fining violators, as now there are no loopholes.
In the new year, the government would continue to stringently inspect Thai and overseas waters to monitor illegal cases and human rights violations. The government will also continue to amend and adjust laws in accordance with high international standards and increase efficiency in fishery resource management, Jaruvat said.
He added the government would also tighten cooperation with the EU and international organisations to draw up measures for legal and sustainable fishing.
On December 15, the centre will submit to the EU a report on Thailand’s progress in enforcing laws and punishing violators involved with illegal fishing. Thailand will send a team to explain its actions after sending the document to Brussels.
Since Jaruvat took charge of the panel investigating cases related to illegal fishing, more than 2,000 cases of illegal fishing were probed. Of those, about 1,500 cases related to violating the vessel monitoring system (VMS). Now, the centre can move ahead with prosecution in these cases in a court. About 100 cases continue to be under investigation. The remaining cases pertain to human rights abuse, the port act, and fishery act.
To increase efficiency in punishing those who breach the fishery act, the centre has also moved to stringently enforce the penalty and fines on violators.
Since January this year, 61 cases relating to encroachment of overseas waters off Thailand were investigated, leading to punishment for the culprits after the Royal Thai Police took charge of those cases, Jatuvat said.
He added that the government would continue to act against the violators and strictly punish them.
In the past, the European Union was not satisfied with some of the stipulated penalties, as it found the fine amount – Bt1,000-Bt1,500 per case – to be too small.
However, the Thai government now imposes stringent punishments and in some cases, the fine has been several hundred million baht. The EU is quite satisfied with the tighter Thai law, he added.