Hard-hit fishermen set to benefit from legal change

Hard-hit fishermen set to benefit from legal change

Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai says he will propose a draft Fisheries Act amendment to the cabinet next month, aiming to address economic problems for fishermen who say their livelihoods are hurt by tough regulations.

He said that as chairman of the marine fisheries committee, the draft legislation is being written.

The next step involves presenting it again to the committee for consideration. Then it will be proposed at a cabinet meeting for further approval, said Mr Phumtham.

The draft is expected to be presented to parliament for consideration early next year, he said.

"The amendment aims to revoke unfair executive decrees, while the consideration of this legislation in parliament has to proceed in tandem with negotiations with foreign counterparts to gain acceptance with Thai principles," said Mr Phumtham.

"The goal is to achieve a balance where both parties benefit, restoring justice to local fishermen and reviving the local fishing industry."

Mr Phumtham said his advisor, Plodprasop Suraswadi, will lead the delegation to negotiate with the EU regarding the amendment of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) rules to align with the actual situation in Thailand.

He said the Thai side would request flexibility from the EU and ensure alignment with the domestic reality, aiming to improve the quality of life for Thai fishermen.

Thailand has fisheries rehabilitation policies in place for sustainable marine life, said Mr Phumtham.

Mr Plodprasop stressed the need to amend the Fisheries Act because of the direct impact on fishermen from the 2015 IUU fishing regulations.

He said there have been challenges in enforcing several aspects of the law, which was hastily enacted, leading to legal action against numerous fishing operators and the impounding of more than 3,000 fishing vessels, affecting the livelihoods of fishermen and related industries.

More importantly, Mr Plodprasop said severe penalties were imposed, causing disruptions in the supply chain, affecting ice factories, cold storage facilities, oil stations, fish markets and ports, as well as tens of thousands of businesses.

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