By JEERAPONG PRASERTPOLKRUNG
Says laws in place to control illegal practices; 'Steps beyond EU requirements'
DEPUTY Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan boasted yesterday that Thailand was fully prepared to report on the progress of its clampdown on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing to the European Union this month.
The country has drafted and implemented laws, especially the Fisheries Decree 2015 (revised edition), which went into effect late last year, he said. He added that 31 of the decree’s 52 organic laws had been published in the Royal Gazette while 21 others were pending publication.
Presenting the progress report submitted by the Command Centre for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF) to the Cabinet yesterday, Prawit said the authorities had checked 317 vessels in Thai waters. This went beyond the 220-vessel (10 per cent of all fishing vessels) required by the EU. He said they also checked 43 boats from outside, compared with the EU’s requirement of at least 73 such boats.
Thailand also inspected 115 fishery-processing plants, compared with the 81 plants or 10 per cent of the total as required by the EU, Prawit pointed out.
So far the Fisheries Department has suspended the operation of five plants for 10 days pending improvement, while the Industry Ministry has permanently closed one.
The Office of the Attorney-General also reported that it had gone ahead with legal actions on 41 cases of forced labour and human trafficking from October 1 to December 29 last year, of which eight cases were about forced labour on fishing trawlers.
Prawit also said 2,076 fishing vessels of over 60 ton gross were equipped with a vessel monitoring system – which is 93.7 per cent of 2,216 such vessels. The government is recruiting a company to run the e-licence system so it can be used from March 30 onwards, while the system to regulate fishing boats and control licences online, in effect since last month, has yielded satisfactory results, he added.
Other measures include cooperation with such parties and organisations as Greenpeace and the International Labour Organisation, the report said.
As for Thailand’s cooperation with other countries, it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Cambodia and Vietnam to import migrant workers, while also signing an MoU for agriculture and fisheries with Fiji. Thailand is also considering MoUs with Papua New Guinea and South Korea, while discussing such deals with island nations such as Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands and Micronesia.
Thailand is also in the process of coordinating cooperation with Malaysia, Myanmar and Indonesia, the report said.
The government will present its report on the battle against IUU fishing to EU representatives who will visit Thailand from January 18 to 22. The EU technical inspection team will first arrive on January 18 for two days, and then the EU executive team for assessment will be here from January 21-22.
Last year, the EU gave Thailand a yellow card for its inadequate measures to stop IUU fishing. The US State Department has also maintained Thailand’s Tier 3 ranking in the 2015 global “Trafficking in Persons” (TIP) report.
Prawit also said the government would provide its progress report on TIP to the US on January 19, adding that “if he were the TIP committee, he would elevate Thailand from Tier 3” for the achievements.