Thailand protecting oceans with fishing bans and traceability

Officials have imposed a three-month ban on fishing in parts of the Gulf of Thailand to replenish stocks, as the Kingdom takes more steps to protect the environment and the blue economy including holding workshops on traceability for boat owners and operators.

Thailand is the world’s third-largest seafood exporter, and the government has been working diligently to protect its marine resources during the past several years. Before that, the government had taken a laissez-faire approach to the industry, which was providing livelihoods and economic growth.

That approach proved unsustainable, however, as the numbers of trawlers and boats steadily increased, resulting in the problems of overfishing and depletion of stocks.

To ensure the sustainability of the industry and marine resources, officials have enacted and will enforce a ban on fishing in several areas in the Gulf of Thailand from June through September. The ban should allow several species to breed and nurture their young so overall fish populations can recover.

Adison Sanguansin, chief of the Department of Fisheries, said that following a similar ban last year, the size and weight of catches increased, evidence that the prohibition ultimately benefitted fishers.

Fishing fleets also work regions beyond Thailand’s maritime borders, and while large vessels are being tracked, smaller ones move about mostly undetected. To counter concerns that they may be engaging in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the government is enacting a traceability regime.

Last week, the Department of Fisheries and the Royal Thai Police held a traceability workshop in Phuket for over 200 trawler owners, pier operators, and fishing association executives on how the new traceability system works and how they must comply.

More workshops are being organized in other coastal provinces so that the entire industry will be on board and compliant with the new standards.