Relief measures for fishermen have been announced as the government approved a plan to buy unused fishing vessels, set up a relief fund and provide low-interest loans.
Defence Ministry spokesman Lt-General Kongcheep Tantrawanich on Monday disclosed conclusions from a meeting of the fifth administration reform steering committee, headed by Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, approving measures to help fishermen who have been affected by efforts to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Kongcheep said Prawit had ordered relief measures to be implemented as possible as a “New Year’s present” for fishermen, with the measures to begin on December 27.
The first measure would be to buy 1,900 unused fishing vessels in line with a suggestion from the Thai Fisheries Association, Kongcheep said, adding that the issue would be passed on to the Cabinet, which would have to allocate a budget.
He said the policy would decrease the number of fishing vessels, which combined with licence restrictions would help to protect marine natural resources.
The development fund for affected fishermen would come from fishing vessel registration fees over these past two years, or Bt130 million, and Bt650 million in low-interest loans would be provided by the Government Savings Bank.
“General Prawit emphasised that every agency must work together to solve IUU fishing problems to enable the European Union to improve our country’s rank … otherwise our fishing industry, which is worth more than Bt100 billion, will suffer severe damage,” Kongcheep said.
He added the government was also addressing international issues related to aviation and copyright protections.