PRIME Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered all fishing vessels to be equipped with GPS to prevent them from illegally operating in other countries' fishing zones.
“Each vessel will have a GPS and be issued under one operator,” he said yesterday.
He was responding to reports that hundreds of Thai fishermen were arrested in Indonesia after they were found fishing in its waters without permission.
The Thai fishing industry has been slammed for using slave labour and involved in human trafficking, as many fishermen on the vessels come from other countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia.
Some 21 Thai fishermen were scheduled to arrive at Don Mueang Airport at about 9pm last night after being held in detention on Ambon Island in Indonesia. Some were apprehended after their vessels were found in Indonesian waters, while others are thought to have escaped from fishing boats that kept them as forced labourers.
Some Thai fishermen have been stuck on Ambon for years, but those arrested are thought to have been there for much shorter periods.
The reports came as Thailand tries to upgrade its ranking in the United States’ Trafficking in Persons report, which last year put it in the group of countries with the worst record on human trafficking.
Prayut said that if Thailand failed to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, other countries would no longer buy Thai seafood and that could cost the nation more than Bt200 billion a year.