|An EU delegation is in Bangkok to assess whether Thailand has done enough to tackle illegal fishing and avoid a ban on seafood exports to the EU. Photograph: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA|
Thailand’s failure to combat illegal fishing practises could end exports to the European market
EU investigators to decide on Thai fishing industry ban over slave labour
Source: The Guardian
Wednesday 20 January 2016
A European Union delegation is in Thailand this week to investigate whether the country has made enough progress in tackling the illegal fishing industry to avoid a ban on seafood products.
The EU issued Thailand with a ‘yellow card’ in April, a warning that it needed to clean up its poorly regulated seafood industry, that has been found to have used slave labour, or face ‘red card’ bans on exports to the EU market.
It is the most high-profile action taken by the EU against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing since 2010 regulations against such practises came into force.
Thailand is the world’s third-largest seafood exporter.
A spokesman for the Royal Thai Navy, said an EU technical mission and EU officials were in Thailand to assess progress made by a centre set up last year to combat illegal fishing.
“Once they are satisfied they will go back and make a decision,” Vice Admiral Jumpol Lumpiganon told Reuters, adding that there was no timeframe for the decision.
Several investigations by the Guardian over the past two years found that Thai and migrant slaves are being used on trawlers catching seafood in Thailand. Their catch has been sold by major US, British and other European retailers.
Bangkok says it has mostly completed a set of measures set out by the EU last year to clean up the industry, including registering fishing vessels and cracking down on human trafficking networks.
The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs said last week that it had achieved “concrete results”.
“Special task force units comprising several agencies have been set up to inspect vessels and enforce the law,” it said, adding that more than 500 fishing vessels have been inspected, with 90 found to have violated the law.
“The result of the EU evaluation is beyond the government’s control. Nevertheless, whatever the outcome of the EU’s decision shall be, Thailand reiterates its unwavering efforts to fight illegal fishing,” a ministry statement said.