Thailand, as one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of processed aquatic animal products, is determined to develop a credible traceability system for aquatic animals, which are brought to Thai ports or processed in Thailand, to ensure that no aquatic animals derived from the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing will enter into the entire productions and processing lines in Thailand.
At present, Thailand is in the process of developing the Thai-flagged Catch Certification System for tracing catches aboard Thai vessels, and also the Port State Measures (PSM) linked and Processing Statement System (PPS) for catches on non-Thai vessels. The key concept is to create databases for systematically tracking the origin of aquatic animals, as well as to set up the automatic alerting for anomalous inputs being found at any stage, from landing of catch to processing. This is to make sure that the catch has not been engaged in IUU fishing.
Regarding the traceability system for catches on Thai vessels, the process starts from checking the origin of the catch, cross checking species and weight of the catch as recorded in the logbook against the actual ones recorded during landing, and issuing the Marine Catch Purchasing Document (MCPD). At the processing plant, the quantity of the catch taken out from the lot to be processed or to be exported will be automatically deducted against the original quantity to prevent any inclusion of unchecked aquatic animals into the system. At the last stage, the Catch Certificate to certify IUU-free products will be issued for exportation to a third country.
For catches from non-Thai vessels, since Thailand is a party to the Port State Measures Agreement, all non-Thai vessels wishing to land their catch at a Thai port must undergo the inspection of documents required for the advance request for port entry, including the Catch Certificate from the flag state, the vessel inspection, and the cross checking of species and weight of the catch measured at port against those measured at processing plant. Then the system will keep track of the quantity used for processing or exporting from the total quantity to prevent unchecked catch from entering the system. Lastly, for exportation to a third country, the Processing Statement will be issued to certify IUU-free products.
Thailand will continue to improve the effectiveness of the IT system for traceability, including the development of an automatic alert function and the development of the mobile application to link databases of transshipment from the vessel to the port until reaching the plant, to reduce the official’s burden in examining documents. Additionally, measures to control the deliveries of aquatic animals via cargo containers, trucks, and by air will be formulated with a view to closing opportunities for smuggling of illegal catch into the production line.
The development of the traceability systems, which are now fully functional, demonstrates the remarkable progress of Thailand’s fisheries reform. This will be continued as Thailand is moving towards becoming an IUU-free country, and an exemplary model for the region on how to tackle the IUU fishing.