Govt to seek migrants for fish industry
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Govt to seek migrants for fish industry

A plan to attract thousands of foreign workers into the Thai fishing industry is taking shape with Labour Minister Adul Sangsingkeo likely to meet his counterparts from Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam after Aug 15 to establish the terms.

The date is set as a deadline for fishing operators in 22 coastal provinces to inform the government of how many workers they want after the National Fisheries Association of Thailand earlier estimated more than 42,000 are needed.

"The ministry wants to know their real demand in order to tell neighbouring countries," Pol Gen Adul said.

Officials are currently using two measures to solve the severe shortage of fishermen, which erupted after the enforcement of new laws to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Thai waters.

The ministry will import migrant workers under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with the four countries to ensure they legally enter Thailand and prevent a prospect of forced labour, a main factor that prompted the European Union to yellow-card, or issue a final warning to Thailand in 2015.

The other measure is to extend work permits for about 10,000 migrant workers who are currently aboard fishing vessels.

During efforts to act against illegal migrant workers, the government allowed undocumented fishermen to work in Thailand, but they were required to report to authorities.

The work permits of foreign fishermen will expire at the end of next month, but the ministry plans to give them two more years to work in Thailand.

They have until Sept 30 to enter a process to renew their permits, Pol Gen Adul said.

His ministry also plans to call a meeting with fisheries officials and fishermen tomorrow to discuss new MoU deals and "other problems so that we'll move in the same direction", he said.

On Wednesday fishermen across country plan to hold a seven-day strike if the government turns a blind eye to the impact of new law enforcement on fishing businesses.

Trawler operators have complained against strict rules which appear to focus on paperwork.

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