Effort on IUU sees ships get sea room
The Department of Fisheries has a plan to allow the first batch of at least 20 trawlers to catch fish outside the country's sovereign territorial waters by next year after a "yellow card" from the European Union (EU) over Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU) was lifted last year.
Mesak Pakdeekong, the department chief, said on Wednesday the move would help secure the country's position as a global hub for food production.
"The department is going to permit at least 20 trawlers to catch marine life outside Thai waters by next year so they can resume their activities under strict regulations to prevent any IUU activity,'' said Mr Mesak.
Before the fishing suspension, the department had allowed the trawlers to operate outside Thai waters to support the country's seafood industry, he said.
Mr Mesak also said there were questions regarding propriety when it came to Thailand's high catch rates.
"Our talent in fishing has produced both good and bad sides. We bring in a large volume of marine life to feed our seafood industry, leading us to become [one of the largest] food producers in Asia.
"Unfortunately, some people have cast doubts over our [fishing practices]," he said at a department press briefing on Wednesday.
"We are going to become great again by letting them know that we can fish under the regulations, safeguarding the sea and workers from any illegal practices."
Sending trawlers beyond Thailand's territorial waters was halted after the EU flagged Thailand for IUU activity in 2015, threatening to ban Thai seafood imports unless improvements were made.
The government has heightened efforts to combat IUU activities, including setting up a tracing system to monitor catch activity, as well as increasing protections for working in the industry.
The EU last year agreed to lift its "yellow card" due to Thailand's progress on that front.