Since the National Fisheries Association of Thailand asked the government to help address challenges faced by workers in the fishing sector due to measures against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the government says that it is ready to consider their demands and find solutions to their problems.
The Deputy Government Spokeswoman, Dr. Ratchada Thanadirek, said today the government is aware of their plight and has already taken action in many areas, such as making some changes to the rules and regulations, purchasing trawlers from affected owners and improving their liquidity.
The National Fisheries Policy Committee, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, is overseeing the tasks of related ministries and sending progress reports to Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha. The issue has been declared part of the national agenda, and relevant agencies must work cautiously so that Thailand is not given a yellow-card sanction by the European Union (EU). At the same time, they have to acknowledge the workers’ demands.
The Department of Fisheries has adjusted the rules and regulations to help the fishing sector in many respects, including making changes to the list of fishing gear and fishing zones as well as the issuance of seamen’s registration books to deal with labor shortages.
The government is now improving its vessel monitoring system (VMS) to facilitate the fishing sector. The government is also looking into amending laws related to local and commercial fishing activities, but it must proceed cautiously.
Unregistered trawler procurement is divided into two groups. The first group comprises 568 trawlers that have been adversely affected by changes in the fishing laws. The government has already allocated funds for the purchase of 252 trawlers, and will purchase 53 additional trawlers this October. The total acquisition budget is 764 million baht. Officials are also inspecting the criteria of 263 trawlers. The second group consists of 2,505 trawlers, which previously received a license which their owners now want to cancel. Officials are considering these trawlers’ criteria and working conditions.
In addition, the government has approved a low-interest loan project, worth 10.3 billion baht in total, to improve the liquidity of entrepreneurs in the fishing sector. The loans would help them install new equipment and employ workers legally. If local and commercial fishing operators see that their issues remain unresolved and think no progress is being made, the Prime Minister is ready to listen to their suggestions to help solve their problems. (NNT)