Marine police seize two Vietnamese boats for IUU fishing
Thailand’s Marine Police seized two fishing vessels from Vietnam last week and arrested eleven crewmembers they said were violating Thailand’s territorial waters to engage in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as the Thai authorities maintained their vigilance against IUU fishing.
Tougher enforcement is one of a raft of measures the Thai government has been taking to combat IUU fishing. At the international Our Ocean conference in Valparaiso, Chile, two weeks ago, President Obama said that IUU fishing is causing losses of $23 billion each year and destroying the environment. He said the United States would launch a satellite detection system in several Southeast Asian nations next year to help in the fight against illegal fishing.
But Thailand has already been taking action with the resources it already has, including more vigorous patrolling of its waters. The Marine Police intercepted the vessels from Vietnam 20 nautical miles off the coats of Narathiwat, a province in the South that borders Malaysia. Thai fishing boats alerted the Marine Police to the presence of the intruding vessels. Police charged the 11 Vietnamese with illegal entry and fishing in Thai territorial waters.
To further combat IUU fishing, the current Thai government has been implementing a comprehensive regime of reforms to clean up, regulate and modernize the fishing and seafood industries, long neglected by previous administrations. Among the measures taken was the first significant revision of the country’s Fisheries Act since 1985.
The government has formulated a National Plan of Action that contains key strategies and clearly defined targets to respond to IUU fishing in a comprehensive and systematic manner. The Prime Minister has established the Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing to drive major reforms in Thai fisheries management.
Large vessels are required to install Vessel Monitoring Systems so they can be tracked, and a Port In/Port Out system adopted. Destructive fishing gear has been banned, and fishing in certain areas has been limited. Thousands of fishing vessels that did not register with the authorities by a deadline have been barred from leaving shore to engage in fishing.
During his weekly talk program, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he believed the European Union would notice positive changes in the country’s fishing industry as a result of the ongoing efforts to stem illegal fishing. He further explained that the government had prepared assistance measures for operators affected by its campaign which entails enforcement of the law.
Prime Minister Prayut added that the cabinet has approved a budget of 230 million baht to compensate all groups of workers who have to suspend work in the industry, pending the government’s restructuring of fishing activities.
Thailand Focus Week of October 19, 2015
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