Govt revamps illegal fishing command hub

Govt revamps illegal fishing command hub

Crew members of a fishing boat gather on deck as authorities inspect their vessel in Chon Buri's  Sattahip district during a field training programme by the Command Centre to Combat Illegal Fishing. The CCCIF received a drastic shake-up on Wednesday. (Photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)
Crew members of a fishing boat gather on deck as authorities inspect their vessel in Chon Buri's Sattahip district during a field training programme by the Command Centre to Combat Illegal Fishing. The CCCIF received a drastic shake-up on Wednesday. (Photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)

The government has ordered a restructuring of the Command Centre to Combat Illegal Fishing (CCCIF) with Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chatchai Sarikulya replacing navy chief Na Areenij as head of the centre.

Under the new structure, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, particularly its Fisheries Department, will be the key organisation overseeing the centre, CCCIF spokesman Chumpol Lumpiganon said, adding the agency must ensure its work corresponds with the laws involved.

The permanent secretary for the ministry will become the centre's secretary-general.

The navy will now play a role in giving advice and engaging in the operations, he said.

It was earlier reported that friction between the navy and Fisheries Department while working under the CCCIF had caused problems in implementing measures to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The move comes after Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon who oversees illegal fishing suppression said on Monday that the European Union had given Thailand six more months to rein in IUU fishing before making a decision whether to downgrade the country from its yellow card status and issue a red card.

A spokesman for the European Commission confirmed no formal decision had been made and said the next round of talks would take place in Bangkok in July, Reuters news agency reported.

A Thai negotiating team, led by Virachai Plasai, the Thai ambassador to the United Nations, visited Brussels last week to discuss progress.

Vice-Adm Chumpol said Thai delegates assigned to discuss progress on the country's clampdown on illegal fishing with the EU representatives are expected to brief the CCCIF about the talks tomorrow.

"Thailand has paid attention to combating illegal fishing. We have put great efforts into the issue for more than a year and we hope the EU will recognise our efforts," Vice-Adm Chumpol said.

"We hope for a positive response."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha refused Wednesday to speculate on the EU's appraisal of the country's efforts to tackle illegal fishing.

"We are doing our best and progress has been made with several issues," he said.


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