Small-scale fishermen are bracing themselves for potential negative impacts stemming from regional integration under the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC), according to the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry.
Deputy Minister Siriwat Kajornprasart called on small-scale farmers to use raw materials that meet standards and lower their production and logistic costs or risk losing out in regional competition.
"We should review the extent to which the implementation [of Asean integration] affects small farmers," he said.
Witoon Lianchamroon, director of the non-profit organisation Biothai Foundation, said aquaculture, along with reforestation and seed reproduction, should remain reserved professions for Thais even after the AEC is formed.
The government's committee on international economic policy, formed under the previous government, earlier said the issue needed to be thoroughly studied since it was related to food security.
The comments were made at a recent Asean Public-Private Dialogue on Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture held in Bangkok.
Sylvie Doutriaux, senior regional food security adviser at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said diminishing fishing stocks underscores the need for sustainable fishing.
Acquaculture has potential but is threatened by diseases while climate change has also brought about negative impacts, she said.
Panisuan Jamnarnwej, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association (TFFA), said Asean should standardise seafood species such as prawn or shrimp among members.
"I hope it will not be long to see Thailand produce shrimp and ship them to Vietnam or Myanmar for processing with the same standards to lower the cost. It doesn't have to be a GNP (gross national product) of Thailand, but if some money goes to Thai companies, I would be pretty happy as a private sector," said Mr Panisuan, also a representative of the Asean Seafood Federation.
He noted that Asean, which is a large seafood producer, should exchange more information among country members so companies can cope better with the unpredictable nature of aquaculture.
The TFFA has 210 members, of which 98 are shrimp manufacturers and the balance are fish producers.
This year is the first year Vietnam has become among the top 10 importers of Thailand's shrimps. The US is the top export destination followed by Japan, Canada and Vietnam, said Mr Panisuan.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter