The Thai Maritime Enforcement Command Centre (Thai-MECC) will be in charge of combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and defending the country's maritime interests, according to navy commander Adm Luechai Ruddit.
Speaking after chairing the first meeting of the Thai-MECC on Friday, Adm Luechai, in his capacity as deputy director, said the agency has been restructured to enhance its efficiency in terms of command and administration of resources of all six state agencies involved under the Thai-MECC.
These agencies are: the Royal Thai Navy, the marine police division, the Marine Department, the Customs Department, the Department of Fisheries, and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
He said the Thai-MECC is similar to the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) except that it has five other agencies working with it.
Thai-MECC is chaired by the prime minister with the navy chief serving as deputy chief. The Navy Dockyard Department is currently serving as its temporary headquarters.
Adm Luechai said tackling IUU fishing activities will be just part of the Thai-MECC's maritime operations aimed at safeguarding the country's maritime interests and security.
With Thai-MECC in place, related agencies will not have to argue which one has authority or jurisdiction to act, he said, citing the illegal construction of a "seastead" in Thai territorial waters off Phuket as an example.
"Thai-MECC acted immediately and asked each agency to look into the aspects relevant to them," he said.
Before Thai-MECC, agencies concerned spent time hashing out who had the authority and jurisdiction to act, he noted.
Yesterday's meeting was its first after the cabinet approved its structure on Sept 10 with a workforce of 1,243 civil servants and state workers.
A budget of 888 million baht is being sought to fund its operations in the 2020 fiscal year.
"The Thai-MECC is both a challenge and an opportunity to work for the people," Adm Luechai said. According to Adm Luechai, regulations will be issued to enable the Thai-MECC's missions and budget spending.