Thailand’s Progress in Combating IUU Fishing
14 January 2016
Thailand has ratified the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and adopted the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. However, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU fishing) remained a longstanding problem, threatening the sustainability of living marine resources and undermining Thailand’s credibility in the view of the global community. The European Union (EU) thus issued a “yellow card” to Thailand on 21 April 2015 and identified the following challenges with a view to help Thailand address its structural problems:
1. Legal framework was not designed to combat IUU fishing;
2. Monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) and traceability systems were poor;
3. Law enforcement was weak and lacked harmonization.
Given the above challenges, the Thai government established the Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF), located at the Royal Thai Navy Command Center, on 1 May 2015. The government also set up 28 Port in-Port out (PiPo) Controlling Centers in 22 coastal provinces on 6 May 2015, with the goal of improving control of fishing vessels over 30 gross tonnage. The PiPo Centers are under the supervision of Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Center (Thai.MECC). Seven working groups were established under CCCIF to formulate and implement measures in line with the observations and recommendations made by the EU
1. Legal framework
1.1 The Royal Ordinance on Fisheries B.E. 2558 (2015), comprising 176 Articles, has entered into force since 14 November 2015.
1.2 91 Subordinate laws need to be passed, 52 of which are of top priority. Progress in this area is as followed:
1.2.1 All 52 of the high-priority subordinate laws have been drafted.
1.2.2 35 of the 52 laws have been published in the Royal Gazette.
1.2.3 12 of the 52 laws are being reviewed by the Council of State
1.2.4 5 of the 52 laws are awaiting the establishment of people’s committee (by February 2016)
1.2.5 The law is implemented by 28 PiPo Centers and officers from the Department of Fisheries officers, Ministry of Labour, Marine Department and Mobile Team units.
1.2.6 A “fishermen’s” legal handbook is made
2. Development of key systems
2.1 MCS system has been established at the CCM and the DOF. The system is being further developed to link with local centers.
2.1.1 Vessel monitoring system (VMS) has been installed in 2,076 out of 2,216 fishing vessels of 60 gross tonnage or more (93.7 percent).
2.1.2 There are concrete, empirical results in terms of monitoring and detecting vessels that engage in illegal fishing.
2.1.3 Automatic alarms to detect suspicious illegal activities for vessels of 60 gross tonnage or more are being developed.
2.2 Traceability system
2.2.1 E-License system will be operational by 30 March 2016.
2.2.2 Real-time and online vessel registration and licensing system has been developed and operational since December 2015, and is being extended to local centers.
2.2.3 Capacity building is expedited for officers. Training course and operational manuals have been created.
2.2.4 The first batch of observers on board fishing vessels operating outside Thai waters have finished their training on 4 December 2015, and will be ready for deployment in January 2016.
3. Law enforcement
3.1 Law enforcement in fishing vessels
3.1.1 Special task force units comprising several agencies were set up to inspect vessels and enforce the law.
3.1.2 A temporary ban on transshipment at sea has been imposed for a period of 180 days starting from 25 December 2015.
3.1.3 Inspection has been carried out on 474 fishing vessels of 60 gross tonnage or more operating in Thai waters (215 percent of the EU’s recommendation). The inspection uncovered 78 cases of infringements, including 57 violations of the fisheries law, 20 violations of the labour laws, and 1 case of suspected trafficking in persons.
3.2 Law enforcement in factories engaging in aquatic animals
3.2.1 Inspection has been carried out on 145 factories engaging in aquatic animals. Out of 115 factories inspected, violations were found in 52 factories and in 11 of 30 inspected shrimp peeling sheds.
3.2.2 The results shown that illegal labors were found in 63 factories. 5 of the factories were ordered to temporary suspension for 10 days (one case was subjected to being close down).
3.2.3 According to the report of the Office of the Attorney General concerning 41 cases of the prosecution process of forced labour and human trafficking from 1 October — 29 December 2015, 8 cases were involved in forced labour in fishery sector.
3.3 Additional measures
3.3.1 Thai Cabinet approved in principle on 12 January 2016 as follows:
– A Draft Ministerial Regulation on Prohibition on hiring of labor ages less than 18 years old B.F…..
– A Bill on Human Trafficking Case Procedure B.E.
3.3.2 Regularization of illegal migrant workers on fishing vessels and seafood processing sectors.
3.3.3 Open registration for illegal migrant workers to be permitted to work in fishing vessels and in fish processing industries for 1 year with the guarantee of no deportation. During 2 November 2015 — 30 January 2016 (3 months) 12,606 migrant labours were registered for working in fishing vessels. From 25 November 2015 — 22 February 2016, 22,443 migrant labours were registered for working in fish processing industries.
3.3.4 Labours are permitted to change their employers.
4. National and international cooperations
4.1 National cooperation MOUs between government agencies and fishery businesspersons including NGOs and international organizations such as Green Peace, EJF (Environmental Justice Foundation) and ILO (International Labor Organization) have been signed in order to tackle illegal fishing and illegal workers as a whole.
4.2 International cooperation
4.2.1 Cambodia: the MOU on Labour has been signed by the Ministry of Labour.
4.2.2 Viet Nam: the MOU on Labour has been signed by the Ministry of Labour.
4.2.3 Fiji: the MOUs on Agriculture and Fisheries Cooperation were signed.
4.2.4 Malaysia: the Department of Fishery is working on having fishery cooperation with Malaysia.
4.2.5 Myanmar: the MOUs on fishery and labour are under the consideration of Myanmar.
4.2.6 Indonesia: a Thailand — Indonesia Working Group on fishery cooperation is to be established with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of each country as focal points.
4.2.7 The Philippines: the MOU was agreed, waiting to the opportunity to be signed.
4.2.8 Papua New Guinea (PNG): the MOU is under the consideration of PNG.
4.2.9 South Korea: The MOU and Protocol are under the consideration of South Korea.
4.2.10 Pacific islands countries (Kiribati, Solomon Island, Marshall Islands and Micronesia): there has been some discussion on cooperation but still waiting for the first draft to be proposed.
4.2.11 Taiwan: Thailand is scheduled to discuss cooperation with Taiwan in February 2016.
4.2.12 Laos: the MOU on labour is under consideration of Laos side.
4.2.13 Spain and China: still under negotiation.
5. Assistance for affected fishermen and fisheries workers
5.1 228 million baht budget is allocated for assisting fishermen who have submitted their requests (873 fishing vessels). 70 percent of them have been granted assistance, and the remaining is being expedited.
5.2 215 million baht budget is set aside for a buy-back scheme for fishermen who wish to sell their vessels, in accordance with the Cabinet’s resolution made on 29 December 2015, The program is being implemented.
5.3 For owners of 8,024 fishing vessels whose registration was cancelled, they may request their fishing rights back by January 2016, but only for those vessels which were not initially found by the survey.
5.4 Assistance has been extended to Thai fishing seamen working overseas. 1,398 of them have returned to Thailand, among whom 54 are victims of trafficking.
5.5 Assistance is made to artisanal fishermen. The DOF will issue a Notification identifying clear fishing areas for artisanal and commercial fishing vessels, and will organize public hearing from different groups of fishermen and fishing operators.