MFA Press Release : Thailand Announced the Roadmap towards the IUU-Free Thailand
4 April 2018
On 3 April 2018, the Thai Cabinet approved the roadmap for the development of Thailand’s fisheries to be free from aquatic animals and fisheries products obtained from the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and also the establishment of the national committee on IUU aquatic animals and fisheries products-free fisheries as a preventive mechanism to ensure that no IUU aquatic animals and fisheries products would enter Thailand’s domestic market as well as the production chain for exportation.
During the past three years, in a continuous effort to combat the IUU fishing, the Royal Thai Government has set up systems and mechanisms which have been delivering concrete results in many areas, with a view to pursuing the following roadmap towards becoming an IUU-free country.
1. All Thai fishing vessels, of all types, sizes, and functions, must be registered into the system for effective control. All vessels’ equipment and conditions must also comply with legal restrictions.
2. The vessel’s personnel must meet the qualification and minimum number of personnel as stipulated in the law. Migrant workers must be legally registered and are entitled to protection according to international standards.
3. Fishing gears must comply with the law in terms of types and sizes, and must be verified prior to and during fishing activities, especially for overseas fishing vessels. The fishing activities must be reported through the electronic reporting system for transparency and inspection.
4. Fishing areas and fishing periods for both inside and outside territorial waters must be restricted as identified in the fishing licenses. All vessels must install the vessel monitoring system.
5. Aquatic animals caught by Thai-flagged vessels and those imported from other countries must undergo the stringent traceability inspections according to regulations and systems, including the Port State Measures Agreement to which Thailand is a party. Moreover, Thailand will develop the Thai Catch Certificate Scheme for other exporting countries to abide by in order for effective traceability of the catch.
In addition, the Royal Thai Government has also set up the National Committee on IUU Aquatic Animals and Fisheries Product-free Fisheries to monitor and mobilise the above-mentioned measures to engender concrete results, as well as to promote Thailand as a regional leader in combatting IUU fishing.
Key Progress on Illegal Ivory Trade Suppression in Thailand
2 April 2018
Thailand attaches utmost importance in combating wildlife trafficking, closely cooperates with international organizations and actively participates in actions to terminate ivory trade in Thailand. According to the latest analysis of the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS analysis), Thailand’s status on illegal ivory trade has been upgraded from the ‘primary concern’ to the ‘secondary concern’ by CITES which was announced at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17) in 2016. This positive development was highly complimented by CITES Secretary-General. The upgraded status comes as a result of the progress made under Thailand’s National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP) in regulating ivory trade in the market.
During the 69th Meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (SC69) in December 2017, Thailand was recognized as a country that substantially achieved NIAP process with various measures having been implemented to combat domestic illegal ivory trade through legal reform, law enforcement and international cooperation. The Standing Committee also agreed to consider whether Thailand should exit the NIAP process at SC70 to be convened in Sochi, Russia in October 2018.
Significant progress made in combating illegal trafficking of Ivory Trade by Thailand are as follows;
- The Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act B.E. 2557 (2014): The amendment, imposes the prohibition of trade in African elephant ivory in Thailand. The violation of this Act shall result in imprisonment of up to 4 years.
- The Elephant Ivory Act B.E. 2558 (2015): The amendment aims to control the possession and ivory trade derived from domesticated elephants in Thailand. Possession of ivory, whether as personal effects or commercial purposes, must be registered. Domestic traders are required to apply for the trade permission. Trade, import and export of ivory without permission will result in imprisonment of up to 3 years and/or a maximum fine of 6,000,000 Baht (or USD 185,000).
- NCPO Order on preventive measures to bring wild elephants to subrogate as domestic elephants: The Order of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) No. 60/2559, which has taken effect since 28 September 2016, increases the protection for all domestic elephants by ways of the issuance of certificate and ID and the blood collection for DNA of the elephants. If the owners did not comply with this regulation, the elephants shall be taken as the property of the State.
- The National Ivory Action Plan 2018 and its Indicators which are developed to comply with recommendations made by the CITES Standing Committee, focusing on (1) Legislations and regulations (2) National level enforcement action and inter-agency collaboration (3) International and regional enforcement collaboration (4) Outreach, public awareness and education (5) Reporting. The significant implementations including additional measures and activities that reinforce the efforts and operations to terminate illegal trafficking of ivory trade will be submitted to the CITES Secretariat within 1 July 2018 for Thailand to exit the NIAP process.
- The Action Plan on Illegal Ivory Trade Suppression was declared by the Royal Thai Police in February 2018. Under the Action Plan, the inspection teams in 18 provinces where the remaining 117 authorized ivory shops are located, are appointed to inspect such shops at least once a month. The inspection site will also include international airports, seaports and risky areas exploited as an import or transit of the illegal trafficking of Ivory trade to monitor these threats and leverage the efficiency of the protection and suppression of Illegal trafficking of Ivory Trade in Thailand.
- Ivory registration system: The execution of the robust ivory registration system leads to an outstanding reduction of ivory products trading in the local market. Currently, the number of ivory shops decreases to 117 shops, significantly dropped from 215 shops in 2015.
- Import and export preventive enforcement: Enhancement of law enforcement focuses on detects and deters illegal import and export of ivory in targeted routes. Passengers’ belongings including cargo at borders, airports, seaports, and postal shipments from targeted countries are thoroughly inspected. This effort leads to the arrest of various major cases of ivory smuggling in 2017. Proactive intelligence exchange among Customs Department, CITES Management Authority and other CITES members leads to additional seizures such as:
- Seizure of 330 kg. of 422 pieces of cut ivory at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on 3-4 March 2017
- Seizure of 73.9 kg. of 16,720 pieces of cut ivory at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on 12 October 2017.
Human Resources Development
Law enforcement officers of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has been trained on how to control the illegal Ivory Trade in various provinces across the country. Also, there’re programs to disseminate information regarding the control of illegal ivory trade in Thailand for tourism businesses, tour guides and tourists at the airports, famous tourist spots and immigration check-points.
Raise Awareness Campaign
The “I am #IvoryFree,” a campaign by WildAid to deter the purchase of ivory in Thailand The Campaign invited Thai public to join in showing their support by creating their own Ivory Free photo at www.ivoryfreethai.org and posting the image to their social media profiles with hashtags #IvoryFree to never buy, own or accept ivory as gifts, and an acknowledgement that ivory belongs only to elephants.
2 April 2018
Division of Economic Information
Department of International Economic Affairs
MFA Press Release: Thai Courts Delivered a 9-year-and-4-month Prison Sentence for a Human Trafficking Case in the Fisheries Sector and Another 5-year Imprisonment to Government Officials Demanding Benefits from a Human Trafficking Case
30 March 2018
On 14 March 2018, the Criminal Court sentenced two defendants on charges of human trafficking on a fishing vessel to a 9-year-and-4-month period in prison. The victim was deceptively taken by an agent to work for the two defendants at the fish market, but was subsequently sent to work on board the fishing vessel “Por. Samutchai 62” which belonged to the first defendant, and where the second defendant was working as the vessel master. While working aboard, the victim did not receive the wages as promised, and was not allowed to have enough rest and food, and thus later filed a complaint to police officers against the two defendants.
In addition, on 27 March 2018, the Criminal Court issued a 5-year imprisonment verdict on four defendants, who were former police officers, on charges of demanding benefits from the trafficking of 40 Rohingya migrants in Songkla Province, and the illegal release of the offenders in 2016. The Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission identified the case as a criminal offense and serious breach of discipline, and thereafter the Office of Special Attorney in charge of anti-corruption cases transmitted the case to the Criminal Court in March 2017. The Royal Thai Police has additionally expulsed the four police officers in this regard. On the same day, the Prime Minister also issued an order to remove 13 other police officers from office for allegedly being involved in four cases of human trafficking, which are now under investigation for further disciplinary and criminal punishments.
The rulings in these two cases demonstrate the Royal Thai Government’s serious commitment in systematically tackling the human trafficking and issuing severe punishment to any government officials engaging in human trafficking especially in the fisheries sector. From 2015 until now, Thai authorities have prosecuted and concluded 40 out of 85 cases of human trafficking in the fisheries sector, with the maximum imprisonment of 11 years.
MFA Press Release: Meeting Between the Deputy Prime Minister and the Executive Director of the Environmental Justice Foundation
On 21 March 2018, Mr. Steve Trent, Executive Director of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) paid a courtesy call on His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan at the Ministry of Defense, and discussed Thailand’s progress in combatting illegal fishing.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit informed Mr. Trent of Thailand’s progress in tackling the IUU fishing in various dimensions, including fishing fleet management, enhancement of monitoring, control and surveillance effectiveness, law enforcement, and amendment of laws to support the preparation for Thailand’s ratification of relevant ILO conventions. He confirmed that, despite changes of government in the future, the fisheries reform in Thailand would continue under the existing legal frameworks and mechanisms already set up by the present Government. Even though the Government had to endure severe pressure from fishermen and fisheries businesses nationwide, it would remain tirelessly committed to tackling the cause of the problems. This effort had led to the stage of Thailand’s progress today. He reiterated that Thailand was ready to enhance its leading role in this matter at the regional level by sharing its experiences with other countries facing the same challenges.
Mr. Trent expressed his admiration for the Royal Thai Government’s endeavours and its progress as portrayed in a number of concrete results. He was confident that Thailand could be a good example of the country successfully solving IUU fishing for the regional and global levels. EJF would stand ready to support Thailand in this matter to achieve its ambition to become an IUU-free country which would also pave the way towards the IUU-free ASEAN in the future.
Mr. Trent was of the view that Thailand’s efforts in the past three years have overhauled the entire fisheries sector which not only benefited Thailand directly, but also other countries in the region. Thailand’s leading role in this issue was therefore crucial. He emphasised the need of transparency to reduce the relevant costs incurred, and the engagement of all stakeholders including the fisheries industry to take part in this at the regional level.
EJF is a private organisation which plays an important role in protecting the marine environment including combatting IUU fishing. Over the past three years, Thailand has cooperated with EJF through recommendations and technical assistance to increase effectiveness of the mechanisms set up for handling IUU fishing and labour issues in the fisheries sector. Recently, the Government has invited an EJF representative to be part of the Working Group on Labour Relations Promotion in Sea Fishing Operation, and also the other working group on drafting laws in support of the ratification of relevant ILO Conventions.
MFA Press Release: Thailand Approved Draft Regulation for Sea Fishing Workers to Receive Monthly Wages via Bank Transfer
On 27 March 2018, the Thai Cabinet approved the draft Ministerial Regulation on Labour Protection in Sea Fishing Work (No. ...), B.E. ...., which contained important amendments to the Ministerial Regulation on Labour Protection in Sea Fishing Work B.E. 2557. The draft Ministerial Regulation requires that sea fishing workers be paid monthly wages via bank accounts and that employers who own oversea fishing vessels shall provide communication devices for fishing workers to communicate with authority concerned or family members during their time at sea.
In the previous regulation, the method of wage payment for sea fishing workers varied according to each employer. However, the new regulation requires the employers to pay the workers on a monthly basis which must not be less than daily minimum wage rate multiplied by 30 days. Moreover, the payment must be paid via bank accounts to ensure transparency and accountability, to prevent unfair wage deductions as well as to help solve the issues of delayed and inaccurate payments.
The Thai Ministry of Labour is working with commercial banks and the National Fisheries Association of Thailand to facilitate the reception of workers’ monthly wages via ATMs. The number of ATMs at 32 Port-in Port-out (PIPO) Centres in 22 coastal provinces, fishing piers, fish markets and in fishing workers accommodation areas has increased to 80 machines, equipped with software in the native languages of the foreign workers. Apart from this, collaboration with the Bank of Thailand to set the criteria and standard for all commercial banks for the opening of bank accounts of foreign sea fishing workers is ongoing.
In addition, the Ministry of Labour has been working with the ILO to raise awareness of the workers on the new regulation of the wage payment via bank transfer by producing information via various forms of media available to foreign workers in their local languages. Three stakeholder meetings covering 22 coastal provincial areas were held to provide knowledge on labour protection law, fishing workers’ contracts and payroll accounting management to vessels owners, fisheries associations, sea fisheries businesses, and representatives of commercial banks and government agencies. The meetings attracted more than 760 participants.
Concerning the regulation on the provision of communication devices for sea fishing workers while at sea, it is one of the mechanisms that will enhance the crew’s quality of life and provide them with a channel of communication to make complaint and to be able to quickly report any problems that occurred.
The aforemwntioned developments reflect the Thai Government’s commitment to protect workers in the fisheries sector from falling victim to forced labour and human trafficking, to improve the management of labour in Thai fisheries to be more effective and also to work toward the ratification of the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention (C188).
MFA Press Release: Thailand Boosts Up Efficiency on IUU Fishing Related Cases’ Judicial Process
MFA Press Release: The Criminal Court Issued a Fine of over 88 Million Baht in an Illegal Overseas Fishing Vessel Case
On 28 February 2018, the Criminal Court sentenced the owner of the fishing vessel “Ceribu” to pay a fine of over 88 million Baht (approximately 2.3 million Euros) on charges of taking a fishing vessel or a reefer to fish in the waters of a foreign state and the high seas without permission, and failing to bring the vessel back to port within the deadline set in the Department of Fisheries’ Notification.
The fishing vessel “Ceribu” weighing 347 gross tons fished outside the Thai waters between 19 June 2015 to 16 February 2016, and did not comply with the Department of Fisheries’ Notification issued on 25 December 2015 ordering all owners of fishing vessels, weighing 30 gross tons and above and operating outside the Thai waters, to bring the vessels back to port within 30 days from the issuance date of the Notification. Thai authorities, as the result, prosecuted the owner of the vessel.
Previously, the Criminal Court has issued sentences of hefty fines to four fishing vessels on charges of illegal overseas fishing totaling over 132 million Baht (approximately 3.5 million Euros).
MFA Press Release: Thailand and ILO Conducted Training Courses to Protect Labour in the Fisheries Sector
The Ministry of Labour of the Kingdom of Thailand and the International Labour Organization (ILO) has co-organised three capacity building training courses for labour inspectors. The first training course was carried out on 13 March 2018 in Chonburi Province where 30 labour inspectors from Bangkok and 22 coastal provinces participated. The second and third training courses are also scheduled to be held in April and May 2018 respectively.
In 2017, the Ministry of Labour together with the ILO conducted training for 90 labour inspectors from Bangkok and 22 coastal provinces. The training was a part of “Ship to Shore Rights Project”, funded by the European Union in cooperation with the ILO and the Ministry of Labour, to combat unacceptable forms of work in the Thai fishing and seafood industries. These 90 labour inspectors will also take part in the 2018 training courses to build on their expertise to advise their colleagues for more effective inspections.
In the past three years, the Thai Government has attached great importance to improve efficiency of the Thai labour inspections, especially in the fishing and seafood industries, by strengthening their capacity for preventing and detecting labour rights violation. The government has also increased the number of labour inspectors to meet the ILO standard. The number of labour inspectors increased 21 percent from 1,245 officers in 2016 to 1,506 officers in 2017 and a further new 186 labour inspectors are expected to be recruited this year.
From 19 December 2016 to 25 December 2017, the inspections and interviews of 53,508 migrant workers at 22 PIPO centers in coastal areas showed that 3,496 migrant workers were violated under the labour protection law by their employers. These cases were already concluded by the Administrative Sanction Committee. Moreover, in 2017, 358 seafood processing factories were inspected, of which 142 factories were found having violated the law. Nine factories were shut down by the Administrative Sanction Committee’s rulings.
MFA Press Release: Thailand Lifted Restrictions on Foreign Workers to Change Employers, Work Places and Types of Work
On 6 March 2018, the Thai cabinet approved the drafted amendments to the Royal Ordinance on the Management of Foreign Workers Employment B.E. 2560 (2017). The new revision aimed to facilitate better control and monitoring of the process of bringing foreign workers into Thailand, the working conditions of foreign workers and the process of obtaining jobs in Thailand as well as adjust the terms of punishment to be in line with human rights obligations.
The new revision emphasises on the use of notification system where appropriate, instead of the permission system. This change facilitates both the employers and the employees, encompassing changes of employers, work places, types of work and the hiring of documented foreign workers, without having to request for permissions from the authority concerned. Apart from this, the drafted amendments also remove restrictions on the accommodation zoning of foreign workers.
On the terms of punishment, the drafted amendments reduce the cap on maximum fine and remove the imprisonment term on foreign workers who work without work permits. The employers who hire undocumented foreign workers will also face a fine of 10,000 – 100,000 Baht per employee. A repeated offence committed by the same employer will result in an imprisonment term of up to 1 year and/or a fine of 50,000 – 200,000 Baht per employee. The said employer will also be prohibited from hiring foreign workers for 3 years.
In addition, the drafted amendments have set additional measures to protect workers and to ensure transparency of recruitment agencies and employers; for example, licensees (brokers/recruitment agencies) are required to have pre-contracts from the employers before bringing foreign workers into the country, and employers are prohibited from collecting fees from foreign workers, except for passport issuing, health check-up, and work permit fees, all of which have fixed rates endorsed by the Government.
On the same occasion, the cabinet also approved drafted amendments to the Immigration Act, B.E. 2522 (1979) to allow foreign workers to work as labourers or to be hired to do physical work and unskilled work.
Prior to the proposed drafted amendments, public hearings were attended by all stakeholders including employers, employees, civil societies and international organisations as well as government agencies in order to revise the existing legislation and to promote closer cooperation for a better management of the employment of foreign workers in Thailand.
MFA Press Release: Thailand’s Views on International Labour Organization’s “Ship to Shore” Project
With reference to the launch of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) “Ship to Shore Rights” project’s baseline research on 28 February 2018, on the particular interests and the cacophony of reporting on the issue, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand would like to state the following facts and express the following views;
- “Ship to Shore Rights” project is a trilateral cooperation between the Ministry of Labour of Thailand, ILO, and the European Union. The project’s main objective is to prevent and reduce unacceptable forms of labour in the fishery and seafood manufacturing industry. Key activities include; strengthen legal, policy and regulatory framework, more effective labour inspection and enforcement, improve core labour standards compliance (Good Labour Practices), and strengthen worker activities and access to support services.
- The duration of the project is 3 years (2017 – 2019). The production of the baseline research based on information gathered from 434 labourers in 11 provinces during March to April 2017 marks the beginning of the “Ship to Shore Rights” project and does not reflect the situation in the Thai fishery and seafood manufacturing sector. The information and statistics that form the baseline research will be the benchmark that measures Thailand’s development, which will be articulated in the endline research to be conducted before the conclusion of the “Ship to Shore Rights” project in 2019.
- The baseline research indicated that the overall labour situation in Thailand has greatly improved, for example the marked reduction in physical harm and the fact that there was only 1% of the sample labourers who were classified as child labour. These improvements were resulted from legislative reforms and closer scrutiny in the implementation of laws and regulations by concerned Thai agencies. In this connection, the Thai side is also aware of the rights violations stated in the research as well as has received relevant information on this issue and cooperated with ILO to continuously address these issues. Moreover, to ensure that this project is a success, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour is also a Chairman of the “Ship to Shore Rights Project Steering Committee.”
- The research clearly pointed out that labourers interviewed were fishermen who worked on fishing boats that can only fish at sea for only short duration and did not cover fishing boats that can fish at sea for long duration and / or operate outside of Thai waters. To prevent confusion and misunderstanding, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to additionally point out that the Department of Fishery had issued a Notification on 25 December 2015, requesting all owners of fishing vessels, weighing 30 gross tons and above and operating outside Thai waters to bring the vessels back to port within 30 days of the issuance of the Notification. Furthermore, since 2017 no permit had been provided to any fishing vessels to sail and fish outside Thai waters, therefore there has been no Thai fishing vessels fishing outside Thai waters during March – April 2017, the time which the baseline research was conducted.
- The Thai government is resolved and committed to improving the government’s administration and management of Thai and foreign labourers, especially those in the fishing industry. The government has enacted the Royal Ordinance concerning the Management of Employment of Migrant Workers B.E. 2560 (2017) with the aim of systematically and effectively managing migrant workers and thus preventing and eradicating human trafficking and forced labour. Additionally, through cooperation with the ILO, Thailand is currently in the process of drafting Prevention and Elimination of Forced Labour Act to be in compliance with the Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention (P29), and the work in fishing law in line with the Work in Fishing Convention (C188). In addition, regarding the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention 98 (C98), an amendment to the domestic legislation is underway. The Working Group on Labour Relations Promotion in Sea Fishing Operation comprising representatives from Thai and International organisations and NGOs has also been established with the aim of promoting employees’ collective bargaining and organisations.
- As mentioned earlier, Thailand has holistically made notable progress in improving its labour situation, in particular its fishery sector. To further advance this cause, Thailand has cooperated with the European Union to set up a labour cooperation mechanism “Labour Dialogue”, and also has concrete cooperation with ILO and various NGOs. In this connection, the baseline research has amply demonstrated the resolve of concerned Thai line agencies to advance its work and cooperation in order to align domestic conditions with international standards and hence improve the livelihood of all labourers, especially those in the fishery sector. The Thai government has placed great importance on this issue and will continuously support the cooperation to achieve these goals.
MFA Press Release: NGO Affirms Greater Improvement in Labour Conditions within the Fisheries Sector
On 11 March 2018, H.E. Mr. Virachai Plasai, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations in New York, presided over the opening of the “Thailand’s Path to Sustainable Fisheries” Seminar, held during the Seafood Expo North America (SENA) 2018 at Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston, USA. Presented alongside representatives from Thai government agencies and the business community was Ms. Apinya Tajit, Deputy Director of Stella Maris, an NGO that has been working closely with the Thai Government on increasing protection of the migrant workers in the fisheries sector.
Ms. Apinya Tajit spoke to an audience comprising representatives from agencies of the US government, International Organisations, major importers of fisheries products, National Fisheries Institute, as well as media representatives. At the outset, she clearly stated that her presence did not indicate to support the Thai Government, but wished to tell the truth regarding the situation on the ground. She stressed that the situation has drastically improved as there has been closer coordination among the Thai government agencies and various NGOs in solving the labour issues. Another milestone is that NGOs now have seats in the Working Group on Labour Relations Promotion in Sea Fishing Operation, to work with the government to ensure that seafarers are better protected, not only as part of the inspection teams, but also as part of the law enforcement teams. She asked the audience to see for themselves what is happening in Thailand and to be cautious of news reports which may be biased and based on old data prior to Thailand’s embarking on the reform of labour management in the fisheries sector three years ago.
Her words echoed those of Ambassador Virachai who summarised the overall progress of Thailand’s fight against IUU fishing. He emphasised that Thailand has some of the most advanced laws against IUU fishing in the world. The efforts and progress made by Thailand was recognised in the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s “Baseline research findings on fishers and seafood workers in Thailand” report which was published on 28 February 2018. The report recognised the positive developments for workers in the fisheries sector with fewer cases of physical violence and a significant reduction in child labour. The ILO acknowledged that Thailand is currently at the forefront for promoting fair treatment of migrant workers in the region.
The major importers who attended the seminar, including Walmart, showed confidence in Thailand’s direction towards combatting IUU fishing and illegal labour and praised the progress achieved so far. They also viewed Thailand as a regional leader in solving this complex problem and were willing to work with Thailand to introduce successful fishing-related measures to nearby countries. Mr. Poj Aramwattananont, President of the Thai Frozen Food Association, representing the Thai private sector, also assured the audience that all sectors in Thailand are committed to working together. The Thai private sector fully supports the government in strictly adhering to the laws and regulations with regard to treatment of migrant workers as well as the relevant regulations in the fisheries industry so that the seafood products from Thailand will meet international standards.
In addition to the previous mentioned speakers, the Thai delegation, composed of Mrs. Petcharat Sin-auay, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Mr. Adisorn Promthep, Director-General of the Department of Fisheries, and Pol Lt Gen Jaruwat Waisaya, head of law enforcement at the Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing, also took part in addressing the audience and answering questions regarding the combatting of IUU fishing, the path towards sustainable fisheries, IUU-free Thailand policy, measures to prevent forced labour, and effective law enforcement against wrongdoers.
MFA Press Release : Thailand’s effective fleet management and the deployment of police officers at the Fishing Monitoring Center
Since the commencement of Thailand’s fisheries reform in 2015, the Royal Thai Government has put tremendous effort in managing its fishing fleet of more than 50,000 vessels. During 2015 to 2017, the Marine Department, the Department of Fisheries, and the Command Center for Combatting Illegal Fishing (CCCIF) have set up an inter-agency task force to conduct three rounds of fleet inspection for all sizes and types of fishing vessels, in order to gather accurate and precise data. During the inspection, the vessels were measured against the registered record, fishing gears were compared against the fishing license, and installation of the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) was verified to ensure no tampering occurred. At the same time, the vessels were marked with unique identification numbers, and had their photos taken for a record. All of the gathered information was then recorded onto an electronic database for future reference and data search. This system is accessible to all relevant agencies, thus rendering ease of information exchange as well as increasing the effectiveness to the fleet management.
At present, Thailand’s fleet structure includes (1) 11,026 commercial fishing vessels in Thai waters, at the size of 10 GT and above, including 3,300 between-30-to-60 GT vessels and 2,800 above-60 GT vessels, and (2) 27,930 artisanal fishing vessels, both groups totaling 38,956 vessels. Compared with the number of 50,023 vessels in 2015, the fishing vessels in these two groups went down 22 percent. The (3) group comprises 15 overseas vessels, which are reduced from 76 vessels in 2015.
Around 6,000 30 TG-and-above vessels are legally required to install VMS which is monitored by the Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC). Since 1 February 2018, 13 police officers were deployed to work full-time at the FMC to monitoring any illegal fishing.
Currently, the Marine Department’s fleet inspection is ongoing, with particular focus on the vessels reportedly sunk, damaged, destroyed, detained or sold to overseas, or altered to non-fishing purpose. The Thai authorities have traced back to vessels owners’ houses as well as have sought cooperation from other countries in verifying the status of these vessels. The Royal Thai Government will keep up our work to find out if these vessels still exist and where they are located to make sure that they will not be able to conduct any illegal fishing.
In addition to the fishing vessels inspection, Thailand has also inspected other types of support vessels such as fisheries transshipment vessels, reefers, oil tankers and fresh water tankers for fisheries. These vessels are required to legally register with the Department of Fisheries. During the inspection, if any of the fishing vessels is found with revoked vessel registration and without fishing license, or any support vessel without legal registration, they will be locked, painted, and marked, as well as recorded in the fleet database for their location and subjected to periodical inspections. To date there are 1,160 vessels being locked.
As part of the fleet reduction effort, the Thai authorities are undertaking measures to reduce the number of fishing vessels from the total fleet through license combination scheme, vessel replacement scheme, buy-back scheme, as well as entry-exit scheme. Vessels that remain thereafter will be demolished to ensure that they will not return to the system permanently.