On 17-18 March 2018, Thailand organised a workshop to help promote an integrated approach in combatting IUU fishing. The participants were 101 representatives from Thailand’s Criminal Court of Justice, the Office of the Attorney General, the Royal Thai Police, the Royal Thai Navy and the Department of Fisheries. The workshop aimed to brainstorm and set guidelines for a swifter and more standardised judicial process on IUU fishing cases.
The aforementioned workshop was the first of its kind in an effort to create a driving force behind the whole justice system concerning illegal fishing cases by stipulating a clear time frame and procedures for each law enforcement agency, namely, the Royal Thai Police, the Public Prosecutors, and the Judiciary. If the police officer finds an alleged illegal fishing offence, he will need to complete his investigation report and hand it over to the public prosecutor within 2 months. The public prosecutor will examine the case and present it to the criminal court within 1 month. The criminal court, which now has two dedicated special chambers to handle illegal fishing cases, will deliberate the case and deliver a verdict within 6 months from the date of the case being accepted by the court. The workshop also discussed the appropriate judicial approaches for criminal and administrative cases, the impound and auction of seized aquatic goods, and explored the possibility of drafting an Illegal Fishing Criminal Procedure Act in the future.
In addition, a representative from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States of America was invited to give a lecture and share experiences with the participants with regard to evidence collection and prosecution of illegal fishing cases. This was a demonstration of cooperation leading to learning from another country’s knowledge and best practices in the law enforcement of fisheries cases for the benefit of Thailand’s own development to be in line with international standards.
Thailand will organise such workshop on law enforcement again in May 2018 to assess performance, and will invite a team of experts from the European Union to share their experiences in the prosecution of fisheries cases with Thai competent authorities. This workshop is scheduled to be organised every year to promote the continuity of enhancing effectiveness of the law enforcement of fisheries cases in order to promote a robust illegal fishing deterrence.