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European Union Gives Thailand Six Months to Clean Up Illegal Fishery



 Thai officials inspect fishing boats docked at the compound of Pusaka Benjina Resources fishing company

Thai officials inspect fishing boats docked at the compound of Pusaka Benjina Resources fishing company



BANGKOK – Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters yesterday that the European Union had given Thailand, the world’s third-largest seafood exporter, a further six months to curb illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, more than a year after Brussels threatened Bangkok with a ban.

The European Union did not reach any decision on the red card or yellow card during its latest dialogue with Thailand over illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Therefore, Thailand still has time to work on this matter before such a decision will be made, and Thailand reaffirms its commitment to continue working to tackle the problem, according to the ministry’s statement.

“They have not yet upgraded us, but extended [yellow card status] for another six months,” he said.

“Maintaining the same position is fine, as the problems have been accumulating for long time. This government just came to take the job and we all-out cooperate with relevant agencies to tackle the problems.”

The EC announced on Saturday that it has put Thailand on formal notice again for not taking sufficient measures in the international fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

South Korea and the Philippines were cleared of their yellow card status in the same report.

After thorough analysis and a series of discussions with Thai authorities since 2011, the commission denounced the country’s shortcomings in its fisheries monitoring and control and sanctioning systems, concluding that Thailand was not doing enough to regulate illegal practices, according to a statement.

“The decision of the commission to show a yellow card starts a formal procedure of dialogue with the Thai authorities,” the statement said.

Prawit said the commission recommended the government take measures to cope with over-fishing and implement a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracing system, which has not been fully equipped in the country’s fishing fleet.

“We have prosecuted more than 1,000 illegal fishing cases, which likely satisfied the European Commission but they wanted us to do more,” he said.

A delegation from the commission is scheduled to visit Thailand to discuss IUU fishing issues late next month and will meet Prawit in early July.

The commission formally assigned yellow card probationary status to Thailand in April last year, accusing the country of not doing enough to control illegal fishing.

The yellow card status means that Thailand – one of the world’s largest seafood exporters – risks trade sanctions if the commission considers government measures to be lacking or ineffective. This is the second time since last year that the EC has extended the yellow card status for Thailand.

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