European Union importers have responded positively to the European Commission's decision to lift the yellow card from Thailand, expecting to see a clear result in the next six months to one year.
After chairing a meeting of importers of Thai fishery products in Belgium, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Chatchai Sarikulya said that although Thailand have faced problems in solving the IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing issue, European importers continued to have confidence in Thai fishery products.
Seafood Task Force, in particular, helped Thailand solve the problems quickly with fund, expertise and suggestions.
Thailand's Emergency Decree on Fisheries, BE 2558 and the Emergency Decree amending the Thai Vessels Act, BE 2481, BE 2561 have complied with international conventions under the United Nation (UN) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), aiming at sustainable fisheries.
Bob Miller, managing director of CP Foods (UK) Ltd, and the founder of Seafood Task Force, said that lifting the yellow card for Thailand will make Thai fishery products acceptable in the global markets.
Previously, importers were hesitant in buying Thai fishery products due to the IUU issue with the number of orders declining for the past three years.
He expected the Thai tuna trade has much to gain from the lifting of the yellow card - an official warning of the European Union towards its trading partners in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, thanks to the country’s improved image. Thailand is a top production site for canned tuna.
“Fishery trading between Thailand and the EU will see a change in about six months to one year," he said, adding that Thailand must be committed to solve the IUU problem as consumers are concerned with the issue.
Currently, Seafood Task Force works with Vietnam and India where there have been fishing problems. It will use Thailand's progress in guiding an improvement of Asean fishery process.
Guss Pastoor, chairman of the European Federation of Fish Processors which connects the different national organisations for fish processors all over the EU, said that the EU needs about 12 million tonnes of fishery products each year and 60 per cent of which can be produced in the EU. The remaining 40 per cent must be imported.
The EU imports tuna, shrimp and squid, but has purchased less of them continuously in the past four to five years due to Thailand's IUU fishing problems, the currency and more sources of fishery production, he said.
In the future, EU consumers will turn to be more health conscious and want fresh products for cooking by themselves, instead of the earlier preference for ready-to-eat or frozen food products, he said, urging Thai operators to follow the EU trend for fresh food.