Source: AP via Seattle Times
January 22, 2016
BANGKOK (AP) — European Union inspectors met Friday with Thailand’s government to discuss what the Southeast Asian nation has done to overhaul its fishing industry and avoid an EU ban on imports of Thai seafood.
The EU last April issued a “yellow card” warning to Thailand after finding its fishing industry flouted the EU’s rules on illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
Thailand is the world’s third-largest exporter of seafood. A ban from the EU, which is the world’s biggest importer of seafood, would be a severe blow to Thailand’s already struggling economy.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters Friday that Thailand had done all it could to comply with the EU’s demands, which include closer regulation and inspection of fishing vessels.
“I’m not worried, we have done everything to our best. All the advice they have given us, we have coordinated and followed,” he said. “It’s up to them what they choose to do.”
EU experts inspected Thai facilities this week and will take at least a month to announce their evaluation.
Thailand is already under pressure for other abuses in its fishing industry, particularly the use of slave labor on some vessels. That contributed to the United States issuing its own warning of trade sanctions unless Thailand makes significant progress in combating human trafficking.
The EU’s rules were put in place in 2010 to try to ensure that fishing in the world’s oceans is sustainable. It estimates that at least 15 percent of world catches are netted illegally.