New Royal Ordinance on Fisheries for betterment of Thailand’s fishery management

The world, now, takes the view that IUU fishing is a problem tied in with labor/human trafficking. With the purpose of eliminating IUU fishing and other illegal fishing activities, the new law imposes severe punishment. As a result, those people concerned with fishing operation and downstream industry should pay attention to and study the law deliberately.

The Royal Ordinance on Fisheries B.E. 2558 (2015) has been enacted and has entered into force since November 14, 2015. The law aims to reorganize fisheries in Thailand in compliance with international measures and regulations on combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. Upon the capacity of the new law, apart from controlling fishing vessels, it encompasses the downstream industry. This is in accordance with the Government policy against IUU Fishing and labor/human trafficking in fishery sector.

Details of this new law are as follows:

Section 11. A factory operator under the law on factories who engages in a business relating to aquatic animals is prohibited from employing a person in violation of the law on labour protection or an alien who does not hold a licence under the law on working of aliens.

In the case where a competent official finds a violation under paragraph one, if the number of persons employed unlawfully found at the factory is not more than five, the competent official shall forthwith report to the Director - General, and the Director - General shall order the suspension of the factory operations for a period of ten to thirty days.

In the case where a competent official finds a violation under paragraph one, if the number of persons employed unlawfully found at the factory is more than five, the competent official shall forthwith report to the Director - General, and the Director - General shall notify the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Industry to order the closure of the factory pursuant to the law on factories.

In the case where the competent official finds that a factory operator whose license has been suspended under paragraph two has committed another violation under paragraph one within a period of three years as from the order of suspension, the competent official shall forthwith report to the Director - General, and the Director - General shall notify the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Industry who shall order the closure of the factory pursuant to the law on factories.

A factory operator who has received a factory closure order under paragraph three or paragraph four shall be prohibited from operating a factory to engage in a business relating to aquatic animals and the licensor under the law on factories shall not issue a license for the operation of a business relating to aquatic animals to such person.

An order of factory closure under this section shall have the effect of license revocation for Category 3 factories under the law on factories.

Section 82. Prior to proceeding with the port-out procedure pursuant to section 81, the owner or the master of a fishing vessel shall submit documents related to vessel registration, the vessel use permit, the fishing licence, details of the number and a list of outgoing seamen on board, evidence of authorisation, license and permit under section 83, as well as evidence related to the provision of appropriate systems for ensuring occupational safety, hygiene and wellbeing of seamen as prescribed in the Ministerial Regulation to the competent official at the Port In ‐Port Out Controlling Centre in accordance with the rules and procedures prescribed by the Director - General.

In the case where the owner or the master of a fishing vessel fails to submit the documents and evidence pursuant to paragraph one, or the provision of a system for ensuring occupational safety, hygiene and wellbeing of seamen does not comply with the requirements stated in the Ministerial Regulation, the competent official shall order the detention of the fishing vessel at the fishing port or order the return of the fishing vessel to the fishing port.

Section 83. A seaman must hold a seaman document issued under the law on navigation in Thai waters. In the case of a seaman who is not a Thai national, a permit to remain in the Kingdom under the law on immigration and a work license under the law on working of aliens must also be obtained.

For the purposes of administrative facilitation, the Director - General shall have the same powers as the Harbour Master under the law on navigation in Thai waters, with respect to the issuance of seaman documents, the Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police under the law on immigration, with respect to the issuance of a permit for temporary stay in the kingdom for aliens working on fishing vessels, and the Registrar under the law on working of aliens, with respect to the licensing of aliens working on fishing vessels which engage in fishing operations at sea.

When granting a permit or license under paragraph three, the Director - General must comply with rules, procedures and conditions prescribed by the Council of Ministers. Upon issuance of a permit or license, the Marine Department, Royal Thai Police and Department of Employment must be notified accordingly. The foregoing provisions, however, do not prejudice the rights of a seaman to apply for a seaman document under the law on navigation in Thai waters or to apply for a permit or license under the law on immigration and law on working of aliens.

The Director - General shall have the power to issue a seaman document and evidence of licensing or permission to a seaman in accordance with the form prescribed by Notification of the Director - General. The seaman shall keep such evidence with himself/herself or at a safe place in the fishing vessel in which he/she is stationed. The seaman document, permit or license issued under paragraph two shall only be valid for working on board the fishing vessel specified in the evidence document, in the vicinity of the fishing port, and only during the period specified therein.

Pursuant to Section 124, any person who violates Section 11 paragraph one shall be subject to a fine of 400,000 baht to 800,000 baht per each unlawfully employed person. Any person who operates a factory in violation of section 11 paragraph two, paragraph three or paragraph four shall be liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or to a fine of 200,000 baht or 2,000,000 baht, or both, and a daily fine of 100,000 - 500,000 baht per day for the entire duration of the violation.

Under Section 153, the owner of any fishing vessel making use of a seaman without a license or permit pursuant to Section 83 shall be subject to a fine of between 400,000 baht per seaman, and the Director - General shall order the revocation of the owner’s fishing license. The Director - General of the Marine Department shall also revoke the seaman document of the master of the vessel pursuant to the law on navigation in Thai waters.

Upon severe punishment and higher fine imposed by the new law, it will bring about deterrence and elimination of labor/human trafficking in fishery sector. The Government, thus; has executed the law strictly in order to achieve the objectives of the law and contribute the sustainability of the Thai fishery sector. -- ADVERTORIAL

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