BANGKOK, 14 July 2015 – Conservation and local fishery agencies have expressed support for the government’s drive against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; however, the National Fisheries Association of Thailand has expressed the view that the current drive would not result in more sustainable fishing practices.
The comments were made at a discussion forum on the topic of banning illegal fishing, jointly arranged by the Thai Journalists Association and other agencies. Thai Sea Watch Association representative Wichoksak Ronnarongphairi expressed the view that the government was in the right direction in banning illegal fishing, as the majority of current fishing activities were destructive practices. According to him, as much as 200,000 tons of the 1.2 million tons of catch made annually comprised juvenile fish that had no commercial value. Once destructive fishing practices such as trawling nets and the likes have been completely banned and only adult fish is caught, the value of commercially viable fish in the Thai waters is expected to increase by at least 20 million tons ,worth 2 trillion baht, within one year.
Suphaphon Anuchirachiwa, manager of the local fishery and aquatic fauna program at Earth Net Foundation, also expressed support for the banning of illegal and destructive fishing, while also giving her view that making a compromise by expanding the mesh size of trawl nets was not a valid solution.
Nitiwat Thirananthakun, adviser to the National Fisheries Association of Thailand, however, expressed the view that banning illegal fishing would not help nature conservation efforts. He also viewed that the laws being enforced were too strict and needed to be toned down to garner voluntary cooperation from fishermen. He suggested expanding the mesh size of trawl nets, designating time periods for making catch, allocating catch quotas based on the kind of tool used, and promoting deep water fishing.