Government to destroy 861 illegal boats
A total of 861 unregistered fishing vessels are set to be destroyed by mid-December as the government ramps up efforts to improve the status of Thai fishery fleets, and its fight against illegal fishing before the next round of talks on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing with the European Union (EU) in September.
The vessels will be destroyed in order to clear up confusion about vessel identification, update the Thai fishing vessels' registry, and to ensure these vessels will not be reused illegally, said Chirute Visalachitra, director-general of the Marine Department of the Ministry of Transport.
For the first time ever, Thailand has pinpointed a "definite number" of vessels in its fishing fleet, after the Marine Department spent four months collecting data on the vessels. As of Aug 16, Thailand had 10,743 "white vessels"-- or registered fishing vessels, while 6,315 vessels are still unregistered.
"The definite number of fishing vessels was never clear because of the voluntary registration system in the past which made regulation of fishing vessels really difficult," said Mr Chirute.
The Marine Department commenced the destruction of nine unregistered vessels Wednesday on the shore of Samut Sakhon province. Today, the Marine Department will destroy six more in Ranong province, followed by four others in Phetchaburi province, seven in Krabi, and one in Prachuap Khiri Khan province by the end of this month.
All 861 will be destroyed within 90 days, according to Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya.
He added that the government is confident in its recently developed tracking system for fishing vessels, and is focused on the long-term goal of achieving sustainable fisheries by using technology to hasten the registration process.
Thailand was previously issued a yellow card by the European Union (EU) for inadequate monitoring of fishing vessels.
When asked about the possibility of the yellow-card status for Thailand being lifted in the near future, EU ambassador Pirkka Tapiola responded that although he cannot predict the outcome of this month's talks, he can confirm the government's commitment to fighting IUU with an improved legal framework and methods of fleet management and monitoring.
"Very good progress has been made and there is commitment to fleet management and labour rights," said Mr Tapiola.