Fishermen in Pattani seek help from EU

Fishermen in Pattani seek help from EU

Industry 'in crisis' due to govt rules

Fishermen at work in Pattani.
Fishermen at work in Pattani.

A group of commercial trawler operators from Pattani has asked for European Union (EU) assistance in relieving impacts caused by the government's policies to control Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU).

They have asked the bloc to directly tell the government to stop implementing regulations that further harm their livelihoods.

Ankate Leelapaiboon, chairwoman of the Pattani Fisheries Association, said the EU has already learnt about what has happened to fishing communities and fishing-related businesses as a result of IUU regulations implemented by the Thai government, describing the effects of such regulations as something that should not have happened.

"The EU seemed surprised by the information that we gave it and told us to write a report on the impacts of the government's IUU regulations. We want the EU to have a serious talk with the government to limit the impacts on us, especially to cut unnecessary laws against fishing," she told the Bangkok Post on Wednesday.

The EU in 2015 issued Thailand with a yellow card due to its poor performance in stopping IUU fishing, covering the use of illegal fishing gear and illegal workers onboard fishing vessels. The then military-led government set up a committee to deal with the issue, including the issuance of executive orders on fishing control, together with over 300 related-fishing laws to control over 20,000 commercial trawlers.

The regulations introduced a number of measures for commercial trawlers, such as Vessel Monitoring Systems to track fishing routes, and logbooks to report the number and type of fish caught, together with measures to protect the rights of crew members.

With these measures put in place, Thailand announced it was free from the IUU warning last year amid an outcry from commercial trawler operators whose businesses collapsed due to very strict regulations.

Ms Ankate said that Pattani province, has already lost almost 161 billion baht from fishing since 2015, including 64.8 billion baht from marine animals in the Gulf of Pattani.

The group also asked the government to buy 220 commercial trawlers from owners who want to sell up. Fishermen are facing financial crises from the IUU regulation impacts and are in urgent need of help. There are 1,016 trawlers in the province, 514 of which are up for sale.

According to government plans, 2,505 trawlers must be cleared in a bid to maintain the marine ecology.

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