Plea for calm as fishermen whip up storm

Plea for calm as fishermen whip up storm

The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry on Wednesday asked thousands of fishing trawler operators and crew in 22 coastal provinces not to launch a mass protest in Bangkok next week.

The move followed threats last week by fishermen to stage a rally in the capital on Dec 17 if the government fails to heed their demands to relax regulations they say have forced many out of fishing.

Alongkorn Ponlaboot, adviser to Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on, said the ministry listens to fishermen's requests since it knows the challenges they face from new government rules after the European Union's warning against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Mr Alongkorn insisted the ministry has now complied with eight of the fishermen's 11 demands, with the rest being forwarded to other agencies. He asked them to hold off on their protest.

He cited a 10.3-billion-baht loan to support fisherfolks' liquidity granted by the Bank of Agriculture and Agriculture Cooperatives and Saving Bank. Meanwhile the Fishery Department is preparing to scrap unused trawlers, targeting 2,768 with a 7.14-billion-baht budget.

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