EU said to be happier over IUU fishing

EU said to be happier over IUU fishing

A trawler is seen in Phetchaburi. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
A trawler is seen in Phetchaburi. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

The Command Centre for Combating Illegal Fishing on Saturday insisted it had made a big effort to solve the country's fishing problems and bring the industry into line with European Union standards.

The EU in April last year gave Thailand a serious warning to clean up illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and crack down on illegal labour in other sectors.

Over the past year it has sent representatives to inspect the progress Thailand has made to solve the problems.

Centre deputy head V-Adm Wannapol Glormgeao said the EU representatives earlier this month indicated they were pleased with what they had seen after a visit to the Department of Fisheries, the key state agency involved in solving illegal fishing problems.

He said they still wanted to see more concrete action to deal with illegal labour in the fishing industry.

"They are happy with law amendments on fishing activities as suggested," V-Adm Wannapol said at a seminar on the fishing industry's problems organised by the Thailand Information Centre For Civil Rights And Investigative Journalism.

"But they are not very happy with the labour problem, which needs more effort to resolve."

V-Adm Wannapol said in response to concerns about human trafficking, the centre has set up fingerprint and face scanning machines to identify workers.

If the scanning system detects that a trawler worker is missing, centre staff will immediately question the skipper. The pilot project is being carried out in Samut Sakhon province.

He said the EU representatives floated the idea of setting up a labour union so that alien workers could negotiate directly with their employers.

But the centre opposed the idea as regulations allow them to be members only of existing associations.

V-Adm Wannapol said the EU representatives asked the government not to take legal action against alien workers in illegal plants. Action should only be taken against plant owners, and the centre agreed.

It is expected that an EU decision on banning seafood from Thailand over its IUU problems will be made next year.

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