On 5 March 2018, H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, led the Cabinet on an official visit to Samut Sakhon Province to follow up on progress in tackling illegal fishing and labour issues in the fisheries sector, prior to the 10th session of the mobile cabinet meeting at Petchaburi Province.
After the visit, the Prime Minister announced at a press briefing that the government places great importance on the fisheries sector since it is a crucial source of income for fishermen and a source of revenue for the country, valued at more than 200,000 million Baht annually. The government has found it necessary to regulate the fisheries sector with regards to fleet management, labour in the fisheries sector, and sustainability of marine resources, to be in line with laws and international standards, and to reduce the potential impact on Thai exportation to other countries. In the meantime, the impact on the people’s living conditions must be kept at a minimum.
As far as the labour issue is concerned, the Prime Minister requested all employers to register their migrant workers by 31 March 2018. He also asked employers to treat all migrant workers well according to the law and to protect them from being exploited. Moreover, the Prime Minister mentioned that Thailand has been using iris scanning technology to capture data in order to track the identities of migrant workers and to help protect their rights. He said that all efforts to solve problems related to labour issues and IUU fishing requires collaborative work from every sector, including private, public sectors, and civil societies. He stressed that Thailand is aiming to lead the region as well as ASEAN to develop international best practices and labour standards particularly in the fisheries sector. He announced that Thailand attaches great importance to business and human rights in all sectors as well as sustainable environmental conservation and preservation.
During his trip, the Prime Minister visited the Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation, whose work includes rendering assistance to migrant workers in the fisheries sector. The Prime Minister had a brief exchange of information regarding measures to combat human trafficking and migrant workers-related problems as well as on how to foster closer cooperation between the NGOs and relevant government agencies. Later on, the Prime Minister visited Thai Union Group PCL which is the world’s largest exporter of processed seafood. During his visit, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of safety and fair treatment for workers. He was also informed of the development of traceability system for food chains so that the origin of the raw materials can be verified, which in turn will facilitate promoting the sustainability of marine resources.
Afterwards, the Prime Minister visited the Fish Marketing Organisation in Samut Sakorn Province. During his tour, he met with relevant government officials, fishermen, and both Thai and migrant workers. The Prime Minister inquired after their well-being and listened thoroughly to their concerns. He was also briefed on the latest developments in the fight to combat IUU fishing, including the work of PIPO Centres (Port-in Port-out), FMC (Fisheries Monitoring Center), and the Thai Catch Certificate system. Additionally, the Prime Minister was informed of the iris scan system and the work of the one stop service center set up to facilitate the registration of migrant workers.