On 8 February 2018, Mr. Lak Wajananawatch, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, led a delegation to Chonburi Province to inspect Thailand’s effort to combat IUU fishing, and the control of Thai fishing vessels at the Chonburi Province Port-in Port-out (PIPO) Control Center and the Kanasrinuwat fishing pier as well as visited the Fish Quarantine and Inspection Office at the Laem Chabang Port to inspect imported fisheries product containers. Important progress during the visit is as follows:
1. The progress of combating IUU fishing, including vessels inspection at the PIPO Center, in order to ensure transparency and adhere to operational standards and fisheries management to ensure sustainability of resources and eradicate IUU fishing. Such inspection is carried out through the integrated round-the-clock effort by the interdisciplinary team, comprising of the Fisheries Department, Marine Department, Thai Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Center (MECC), Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, Department of Employment, Department of Provincial Administration, and Marine Police Division. During this process, authorities involved would jointly grant fishing vessels permission to carry out their operation at sea, and reenter the port within the timeframe as permitted by law. The PIPO Center has to carry out relevant procedures including documents checking, crew inspection, and fishing vessels inspection in order to ensure the installation of VMS system on the boat as well as the health, wellbeing, and safety of the crew, during both the port-in and port-out process.
2. Inspection of the verification process of aquatic animals upon entry to the port, including weight and species identification, port audit, and port operation; system established to ensure traceability of aquatic animals caught by Thai fishing vessels in order to track fisheries products throughout supply chains. All aquatic animals caught must be registered in the logbooks, which contained catch information including the actual descriptions, amount of catch, fishing location and types of fishing gears. After entering the port, aquatic animals will have to be weighed and sorted out according to species, and the Marine Catch Purchasing Document (MCPD) will be filled accordingly, once the aquatic animals are sold. This process is intended to ensure that sources of aquatic animals can be traced back throughout the supply chains.
3. Examination of imported fisheries products and the import process, during which goods in containers and documents related to import authorisations were inspected. Aquatic animal importers must seek approval from the Fish Quarantine Inspection Service, Fisheries Department, where animals awaiting importation and relevant documents, including Catch Certificate, Certificate of Origin and Customs Clearance, will be checked. Only when the information is accurate, the importation will be authorised to proceed. In addition, the delegation inspected the entry process of imported fisheries products containers which need to be scanned through X-ray machines and the issuance of the import movement document (IMD) to the authorised importers.
Deputy Minister reaffirmed Thailand’s commitment in strictly regulating operation of Thai fishing vessels, inspecting of imported fisheries product containers, and raising awareness among fisheries operators throughout supply chains in order to ensure their cooperation in undertaking lawful fishing activities. In this regard, the Deputy Minister instructed relevant authorities to strictly follow the existing laws and regulations while fisheries product records must be traceable throughout the entire supply chains. These will build confidence of the international community in Thailand’s steadfast efforts to combat IUU fishing and ensure sustainable management of aquatic resources to safeguard sufficient resources and food security for future generations.
In this occasion, representatives from Stella Maris and Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) were also invited to attend the inspection. Aside from promoting insightful and accurate understanding among NGOs regarding the actual situation on the ground and showcasing Thailand’s commitment to combat IUU fishing, it offers opportunities for NGO representatives to provide suggestions and exchange ideas which are valuable for improvement of the government’s efforts in the future.