Phuket covets tuna hub status
Phuket has designs to become the tuna trading hub of Asean, with deputy governor Pichet Panapong chairing a meeting yesterday to set up such a centre.
The project is part of a strategic plan to develop the city's economy based on innovation and improved services. The meeting approved the setting up of a committee to develop the economy as well as a provincial administration plan to forge the tuna trading centre.
Mr Phichet said the centre was one of seven strategies to enhance the province's economy, in addition to tourism. The others focus on the marina industry, international education, health tourism, creative food, tuna and marine life, international sports festivals and the smart city concept.
The province can produce large amounts of tuna but in 2013-2014 the industry became ensnared in claims of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, prompting a crackdown to clean it up.
In the wake of warnings from the European Union, Thailand has since been upgraded to tier two on the EU's watchlist. Fishing boats in Phuket now will be improved to catch tuna, officials said.
The meeting saw updates on the readiness of the work force after fishing law amendments. A budget will be allocated for a marine life centre, tuna fishing docks, and training about tuna.
Thailand imported 843 tonnes of tuna last year, down from 12,786 tonnes in 2015.