Politics taint fisheries win

The nation was removed from the EU illegal fishing warning list, but there is a long way to go

Thai fishermen have met the EU standards needed to continue exporting seafood, but a major battle looms just to maintain sustainable fishing. (File photo)

BRUSSELS: The European Commission’s decision to free Thailand from countries it has formally warned over illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has underlined the military-led government’s achievement in tackling the EU’s concern on illegal fishing.

However, the country is still being questioned over its ability to maintain fisheries sustainability.

To get the EU’s approval for delisting the so-called yellow card, the government issued 138 laws and regulations to control IUU fishing.

It allowed 10,565 trawlers to go to sea based on the balance of marine resources and a budget of 95 million baht with 4,000 staff to complete the mission.

Department of Fisheries chief Adisron Promthep said those efforts will mean nothing if the incoming government fails to adopt the strong political will needed to preserve the country’s sustainable fishery.

He said he has learnt that some parties are saying they would introduce legal amendments to pacify the industry to gain more political support. That might make the country’s aim of sustainable marine practices more difficult.

“We might be warned again if there is no further development. And it will get worse if such law changes are made unreasonably. Any government has a right to do so, but it must be done based on sustainable fishery principles with better results,” he said.

Last week, the EU declared Thailand was free of concerns over IUU fishing activities, which follows the Philippines in shedding its yellow card warning status in 2015, the same year that Thailand was given the yellow card.

Meanwhile, marine shipment imports to the EU have are still banned from Cambodia, and Vietnam is also conducting strong efforts to get free from the yellow card status.

Mr Adisorn further explained that Thailand has strong experience to share with Asean members in terms of tackling illegal fishing activities and…

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