Fishing sector 'shipshape' ahead of EU scrutiny
Workers registered in time for inspection
In a bid to get the European Union's yellow card lifted from the lucrative fishery sector, Thai authorities have completed the registration of migrant workers ahead of a visit by an EU inspection team.
Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya told media Monday that the Labour Ministry has already completed registering around one million alien fishery workers.
"Thailand no longer has illegal migrants working on commercial trawlers or in fishing-related businesses as we have completed registering them. In addition, we also required them to have their irises scanned for identification purposes. This goes beyond the requirements of the European Union," Gen Chatchai told the media at the Fisheries Department in Bangkok which is preparing for the team who will arrive Wednesday to inspect the situation regarding Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Thailand's fishing industry was yellow-carded by the EU in April 2015.
As well as unsustainable fishing methods, human trafficking has been a major concern of the EU. Indeed, the labour issue will top the agenda during talks, according to a well-placed source at the Department of Fisheries.
To solve the illegal labour issue, Thai authorities in February ordered the registration of over a million foreign labourers in the fishery sector.
According to the EU's itinerary, inspectors will randomly visit Port-In/Port-Out (Pipo) centres at major fishery piers along the coastal provinces.
The Pipo centres will provide information about commercial trawlers' arrivals and departures.
They will also visit the Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) in Bangkok to ascertain whether the centre is able to deal with trawlers that violate the law.
"What we have accomplished [in regulating and monitoring fisheries and trawlers] will eventually pave the way for sustainable fishing in close cooperation with the EU's members," said Gen Chatchai who last week visited Pipo centres in Samut Prakan and Songkhla province.
Since being yellow-carded in 2015, Thailand has been trying to clean up and develop its fishery sector.
The Command Centre for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF) was established that year under a National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) command for dealing with the problem.
Many measures were implemented, including new laws, the establishment of Pipo centres, vessel monitoring and traceability systems.
Thailand is the world's third-largest exporter of fish products. Failure to resolve the IUU problem could result in a trade ban on exports to the EU, with an estimated loss to the country of US$300 million.