BANGKOK – A European Union delegation that is visiting Thailand to weigh its progress in battling illegal and unregulated fishing will not make a decision this week on whether to ban Thai seafood products, the government said on Tuesday.
Thailand, the world’s third-largest exporter of seafood, faces the risk of the ban after the European Union gave it a “yellow card” in April for failing to clamp down on problems in its fishing industry.
An EU dialogue mission to assess progress is set for Thursday and Friday but a technical team has already arrived, the government said.
The team is monitoring Thailand’s progress after it set up a center last year to combat illegal fishing, said Vice Admiral Jumpol Lumpiganon, a spokesman for the Royal Thai Navy.
“Once they are satisfied they will go back and make a decision,” he said, adding that there was no timeframe for the decision. The technical team would conduct random checks until the rest of the EU officials arrived on Wednesday, he said.
Last week the government said Thailand had completed “70 percent of the task” set out by the EU, after having registered most of its fishing vessels and caught groups suspected of human trafficking in the fishing sector.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said Thailand had introduced new laws to avert an EU ban.
“There has been huge progress, because we have solved many problems in terms of the law, and its application,” he told reporters. “Whether they are satisfied or not we will have to see, we’ve done our utmost.”
The EU declined comment, citing the confidential nature of meetings between its officials and Thai authorities.
By Pracha Hariraksapitak
(Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)