Fishermen across the country staged a protest against the European Union on Thursday over its stringent regulations regarding illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Thailand.
Fishermen in 22 seaside provinces turned out to show their opposition against the EU on the occasion of National Fisheries Day. More than 3,000 protesters turned out in Samut Songkram alone, with demonstrators wearing black shirts featuring anti-EU messages.
Thai Fisheries Association chairman Mongkol Sukcharoenkana said the fishermen had gathered to signal to the EU that they were unhappy with the EU’s “double standard” regarding the Thai fishing industry, adding that EU officials were trying to use IUU fishing regulations as a trade barrier rather than to preserve marine resources.
“From the past actions of the EU, we can see that they have applied a double standard on us. Despite how hard the Thai government and fishing industry have tried to solve IUU fishing, they ignored our efforts and still keep a yellow card for Thailand,” Mongkol said.
“This is a clear political game against Thailand, and the EU tried to boycott our government by harming our fishing industry. This is why we have to come out and show that we will not tolerate this unjust standard anymore.”
He said IUU regulations had destroyed the Thai fishing industry over the past two years, adding that the fisheries sector had already lost Bt500 billion in damages due to IUU regulations.
Mongkol also said the Thai fishing fleet formerly had as many as 40,000 boats, but now the number had decreased to 10,600 vessels, 3,500 of which could operate because of the lack of labour.
“If the EU still interferes with Thai businesses, we will apply our own measures against the EU, such as boycotting goods from the EU or protesting their exploration for natural gas in Thai waters,” he added.