PM demands action plan on illegal fishing

PM demands action plan on illegal fishing

Officials colluding with IUU face transfer

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha took time out from the Rohingya and fishing problems on Wednesday to visit a fruit and vegetables fair, which will run until the end of May at the Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem market near Government House. (Photo by Thanarak Khunton)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha took time out from the Rohingya and fishing problems on Wednesday to visit a fruit and vegetables fair, which will run until the end of May at the Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem market near Government House. (Photo by Thanarak Khunton)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed agencies to devise an action plan to combat illegal fishing before European Union inspections later this month.

Government spokesman Yongyuth Maiyalap said the prime minister demanded that all agencies concerned make progress in efforts to tackle illegal fishing by this month.

EU representatives will inspect the Thai government's progress in dealing with illegal fishing on Friday and again on May 20.

The EU claims Thailand has not done enough to tackle so-called "illegal, unreported and unregulated" fishing (IUU).

The matter prompted the European Commission to give Thailand a "yellow card" -  basically a final warning - on April 21.

The EU gave the country six months to address the problem or face a ban on Thai fishery exports to the European Union.  

The premier also called on agencies to consider transferring any officials believed to be complicit in IUU practices, Mr Yongyuth said.

The spokesman said the navy will have to report any difficulties in tackling the issue to the National Council for Peace and Order's chief, so he can carry out further action to implement the government's plans.

Mr Yongyuth was speaking after a meeting by economic ministers, to discuss ways to tackle IUU practices and satisfy the EU representatives.

The navy, along with the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, also attended the meeting.

Navy chief Adm Kraisorn Chansuvanich took part in a meeting between members of the national command centre to tackle illegal fishing.

He said the centre is gearing up operations to make progress before the EU inspections. Authorities have been ordered to inspect all in-and-out fishing vessels at piers before the EU delegation arrives, he said.

The centre will ask the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commision (NBTC) to help fishing vessels install vessel monitoring system (VMS) equipment so the vessels can be traced.

The centre will propose that the EU representatives participate in the inspections.

The Department of Fisheries is amending the Fisheries Act and working out about 70 related laws to address the problem, Mr Yongyuth said.

Among them are 18 pieces of legislation aimed at preventing IUU practices, as well as seven ministerial regulations, he said.

The department has been assisted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) legal experts in drafting the laws, particularly those connected with fishing beyond the country's maritime territory.

These include marine life protection and international fisheries management, he added.

Speaking about the National Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing (NPOA-IUU), Mr Yongyuth said the department is working with state and private agencies to draft it. 

Additional details on indicators and time frames as recommended by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries will be included in the plan, he said. 

Speaking about the EU representatives' impending visit to Thailand, Mr Yongyuth said talks will be held with them to discuss how the plan could be improved.

Mr Yongyuth said a total of 59,070 fishing trawlers have been registered to help regulate the fishing industry. Out of these, 28,364 have been granted fishing licences. 

Port in-port out control centres, set up to monitor fishing vessels setting sail or coming ashore, have also been introduced in 22 seaside provinces, he added. 

Under the system, fishing operators must give details to control centres about fishing licences, equipment and crew.


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