Complaints spur IUU assessment

13-Jun-2019 Intellasia | BangkokPost | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The Commerce Ministry has scheduled a joint meeting with the Fisheries Department next week to evaluate the impact of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices on domestic fishing operators after mounting complaints about a flood of imported fishery products from neighbouring countries.

Wanchai Varavithya, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the Thai fishing business is less competitive than rival countries because compliance with IUU rules means production costs are 30-40 percent higher.

“Domestic fishing operators have complained they cannot compete with imported seafood products from neighbouring countries. In some cases these are Asean members that received a yellow or red card from the European Commission [EC], but have yet to comply with the IUU regulations,” said Wanchai.

With the aim of making sure no IUU fisheries products end up on the EU market, the EC enacted tough legislation against IUU fishing in 2010, identifying marine fisheries products by their exporting state or the flag under which shipping vessels operate. These countries are held accountable for IUU activities within their jurisdictions and regularly issue a list of IUU vessels based on information provided by regional fisheries management organisations and international organisations formed by countries with fishing interests in an area.

Countries that disregard IUU fishing are first put on notice and issued a yellow card. At this stage, called pre-identification, the EC will open a formal dialogue with the state and observe the situation for at least six months. If the country shows improvement in anti-IUU fishing efforts, the observation period will continue until the yellow card is eventually rescinded.

Those that do not show satisfactory progress after the monitoring period are identified or categorised as uncooperative and issued a red card. Marine products from these countries are banned from entering the EU. The final state is the blacklist, which prohibits fisheries products caught by all fishing vessels operating under that country’s flag. EU fisheries companies are also banned from operating in those countries.

Among Asean members, the Philippines was yellow carded in June 2014 but managed to get it rescinded in April the following year. Thailand was yellow carded in April 2015 and had the card revoked in January this year.

Wanchai said the Foreign Trade Department will discuss with the Fisheries Department next week the best solutions to benefit the domestic fishery business.

“The Fisheries Department is directly in charge of the import and export permission process,” he said. “The Commerce Ministry is in charge of the regulations on import limits or import ban measures under the Import and Export Act of 1979, but such measures need to have acceptable reasons such as national security, social mores or overall public health benefits. It would be considered discrimination if Thailand introduces a ban on a particular country.”

In 2018, Thailand’s seafood imports rose 16 percent to 1.67 million tonnes worth 101 billion baht, up 2.29 percent from 1.44 million tonnes in 2017.

The biggest import volume was chilled and frozen tuna, making up 51 percent of the total, followed by salmon, trout, cod, mackerel and chilled and frozen squid all at 8%, with the remainder chilled and frozen crab, and other seafood products.

In the first four months, imports rose 0.52 percent to 520,000 tonnes over the same period last year.


Category: Thailand

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