Govt eases fishing regulations after protests

Govt eases fishing regulations after protests

Commercial fishermen across Thailand have decided to end their protests after the government pledged to assist with problems which they believed stemmed from measures taken to curb Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Rallies against the government's stringent regulations aimed at countering IUU fishing have been held in 22 coastal provinces since Tuesday.

In response, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, Chalermchai Sri-on, met with representatives from the National Fisheries Association of Thailand (NFAT) and other fishing associations in Bangkok to hash out an action plan.

According to Mr Chalermchai, the government agreed to implement a number of measures to appease the fishermen -- including compensation payouts to fishermen whose boats were grounded because they did not meet the government's minimum requirements under its new anti-IUU restrictions.

The government will also help facilitate fishermen who wish to switch to other professions, he said.

However, the minister reminded that compensation will only be paid out once the state's budget has been approved.

Furthermore, Mr Chalermchai said that fishermen who were barred from fishing because they failed to meet the state's minimum requirements will be given 30 additional fishing days.

"The government will also allow fishing boats equipped with older models of the Vessel Monitoring System to continue operating with no fee," he said.

As for the fishing associations' call for a legal amendment to ease impact of the IUU fishing restrictions on local fishermen, Mr Chalermchai said a joint committee of state agencies and fishing associations will be formed to study the issue.

"The study is expected to be completed in 45 days after the panel is up and running," he said.

Mongkon Sukcharoenkhana, president of the NFAT, said the result of the talks with the ministry was fairly satisfactory.

"However, we will wait and see if the government can live up to their promises," he said.

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