Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Chatchai Sarikulya talks about the country’s commitment to making its fishing industry globally competitive and both sustainable and free of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) activity.

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Chatchai Sarikulya | via the Thai Department of Fisheries

How far along is Thailand on the road to achieving its ambitions for sustainable, IUU-free fisheries?

Over the last three years, Thailand and the European Union have been working intensively together to address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Thailand. With this fruitful cooperation, in which the EU has shown real commitment to helping Thailand solve many difficult challenges, we are much farther ahead on the road to becoming IUU-free and achieving our sustainability goal. With more cooperation and continued hard work we are confident that we can achieve our goals and have a globally competitive, and recognized, fisheries industry.

How important is the fisheries industry for Thailand?

We are the world’s third biggest seafood and fisheries exporter, and we have over 2 million people employed in our domestic fisheries industry spanning the entire 3,219 kilometers of our coastline. These jobs, many of which are found in rural areas of our country, are vitally important for us. Simply put, our fisheries industry is a key national sector and one that we will continue to invest in.

Can you give us examples of the reforms Thailand has had to make to meet its goals?

The basis for our reforms is a new Fisheries Law that was passed in 2016 ― this was the start of our journey. Since then, and from this new legal basis, we have set up and operationalized a new monitoring, control and surveillance system with a fully-trained team of inspectors. We have also developed new inspections and patrols at port and at sea and implemented robust labor monitoring mechanisms to protect against child labor, forced labor and human trafficking. In addition, we have put into place rigorous law enforcement and deterrent sanctions; signed and joined several key international fisheries agreements; and, finally, deployed a new enhanced trace ability system for the whole fisheries supply chain. This has been the largest-ever overhaul for our fisheries industry.

What next?

We remain steadfast in our ambition to make Thailand IUU-free and recognize that much hard work lies ahead to both attain and retain this status. Through the efforts and progress of the last few years, supported by the EU, we see that it is possible to comply with all international laws and standards. We also see that that is only the first part of the challenge: We still need to safeguard that compliance and continue the fight against IUU fishing with the EU, our regional partners and the international community. Only together can we solve this issue.

Source : politico

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