The European Commission has removed Thailand from its list of “warned countries” after significant improvements in the Thai fishing industry.
The Commission first issued Thailand with a “yellow card” warning in April 2015, alleging the country had not taken sufficient action to tackle the problems of illegal and unregulated fishing practices. If the Thai fishing industry had continued to act with impunity, the yellow card would ultimately led to a full import ban of Thai marine fisheries products into the EU.
Instead, Thailand’s government worked closely and cooperatively with the Commission to implement substantial upgrades to the governance and oversight of the Thai fishing industry. The country’s legal framework governing fisheries has been brought in line with international requirements; while compliance with Thailand’s international obligations and the government’s mechanisms of control have been reinforced, including introducing remote monitoring of fishery activities and a comprehensive inspection programme in ports.
As the world’s largest market for fisheries products, the EU bears a responsibility to ensure that the products it imports derive from legitimate, ethical, well-regulated fishing practices. Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, said of the changes to the Thai fishing industry: “Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing damages global fish stocks but it also hurts the people living from the sea, especially those already vulnerable to poverty. Fighting illegal fishing is therefore a priority for the EU. I am excited that today we have a new committed partner in this fight.”
In the process of updating its rules covering the Thai fishing industry, Thailand has also addressed related issued pertaining to human trafficking and poor working conditions within its fishing industry. While human rights abuses in the Thai fishing industry were not strictly covered by the Commission’s “yellow card”, the Commission has worked with the Thai government to implement stricter regulation of labour exploitation. As a result, Thailand has become the first country in Asia to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s Convention No. 188 on Work in Fishing.