Pew Trust calls Thailand a model for fighting illegal fishing

Thailand has become a model for other countries in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, which said that the Kingdom has been impressive in reforming its fishing industry in just a few years.

Thailand is one of the top 20 fish-producing nations, reeling in over $7 billion in seafood exports every year.  It is the world’s leading shrimp exporter, and the Kingdom has a large fishing fleet that employs over 600,000 workers.

With its exports to major markets hanging in the balance, Thailand’s government and fishing industry joined forces to respond to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in a robust fashion since 2015. “The resulting market pressure was a crucial catalyst: Thailand revised its fisheries laws, aligning them with international regulations and strengthening control systems for domestic and foreign fishing vessels, at sea and in port,” Pew wrote on its website.

Established in 1948, the U.S.-based Pew Charitable Trusts is a global nongovernmental organization that seeks to “improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life.” One of its focus areas is conservation, and that includes protecting the oceans and marine life.

Key to Thailand’s turnaround, according to Pew, was that it adopted the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). The PSMA is an international treaty that requires strengthening port controls to stop illegally caught fish from entering the market.

“Thailand also utilizes technology to effectively monitor its own domestic vessel activities to confirm compliance, making it easier for authorities to trace illicit catch and to take action against illegal operators,” Pew wrote.

Pew wrote that today “seafood buyers increasingly trust that fish landed in Thailand has been caught legally. Products can now be traced through the entire supply chain, from catch until export, through an electronic traceability system that works on both Thai and foreign vessels.

“Other nations should follow Thailand’s example. Thailand has demonstrated how quickly this can be done if political will is present,” Pew concluded.

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