In accordance with the Royal Thai Government’s policy to promote the welfare of seafarers onboard fishing vessels, the Department of Fisheries, Nestlé S.A., and Thai Union Group PCL officially inaugurated a demonstration boat at the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), Samut Prakarn province, on 28 February 2018. The aforementioned project was part of the demonstration boat programme started in 2016.
The Demonstration Boat named “Plalang 1” was a refurbished traditional Thai fishing board that has been transformed into a vessel to demonstrate proper living and working conditions on boats – for instance, the allocation of appropriate rest areas, a designated dining area, provision for recreational activities, installation of toilet facilities with proper sanitation standards, and provision of adequate food, drinking water, medicine and medical supplies. Plalang 1 was launched into the sea in December 2017, and since then, the relevant authorities have invited boat owners and boat operators to take part in study tours as well as attend training sessions on the welfare of seafarers for fishing operators and workers onboard.
The Royal Thai Government implemented the Order of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives on Safety, Health and Welfare at Work for Seafarers on 25 February 2016. The project on demonstration boats not only complies with the objectives of the Ministry’s Order but also sets the standard and guidelines for meeting the Convention for Human Rights at Sea of the International Labour Organization (ILO C188). Currently, the Royal Thai Government is planning to ratify the Convention by June 2018 and improve laws and regulations to efficiently promote labour protection and the welfare of workers in the fisheries sector.
The demonstration boat project is a result of the excellent initiative based on the Pracharath (social enterprises) policy to promote cooperation between the public and private sector. This initiative is led by the Department of Fisheries, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labour, in cooperation with Nestlé, Thai Union, SEAFDEC, and NGOs such as Verité. It aims to promote the rights and welfare of seafarers in the fisheries sector to ensure that they will be protected under Thai law, taking into account safety standards and the quality of living conditions, with a view to elevating Thailand’s fisheries sector to be in line with international standards.