Sun, August 14, 2022

in-focus

Fishing boats up for sale as tough IUU rules make business unviable


Fishery groups from across the country have applied to sell almost 800 of their fishing vessels to the government, in the face of harsher rules aimed at curbing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

National Fisheries Association of Thailand president Mongkol Sukcharoenkana on Thursday said a total of 792 fishing boats were offered to be sold to the government, as their owners can no longer shoulder the higher costs.

He blamed the situation on “unreasonably severe penalties” set by the Emergency Decree on Fisheries, which became more stringent after its latest amendment in 2017.

Due to the rules, fishing boats can only be used for 240 days per year while the owners have the burden of covering the costs for the entire year, Mongkol said.

Also, the fishery industry is facing a shortage of workforce, he added, blaming the problem on the government’s policy that is “incompatible with reality”.

“The Thai fisheries industry is dying. Commercial fishery has decreased 60 per cent and the catches account for less than 40 per cent of the previous amount,” Mongkol said.

“Thailand will soon have to import seafood for domestic consumption,” he added.

The fishing boats bought by the government will be taken out of the system in order to meet the country’s maximum sustainable yield (MSY) set by the National Fisheries Policy Council. MSY is the largest average catch that can be captured from a stock under existing environmental conditions.

Of the 792 fishing boats set to be sold to the government, 766 are permitted for commercial fishing while the remaining 26 have no such permit.

The boats are from Bangkok and seaside provinces in the Central region, eastern seaboard and the South.

Pattani accounts for most of them, with 164 fishing boats offered to be sold, followed by Samut Prakan (116), Samut Songkhram (109), Nakhon Si Thammarat (94), and Chumphon (65).

IUU fishing is a global issue, as industry observers believe it occurs in most fisheries, accounting for up to 30 per cent of total catches in some important fisheries.

Under the “carding scheme” adopted by the European Union to tackle the scourge of illegal fishing, Thailand was given a “yellow card” as a warning of potential EU sanctions for ignoring IUU fishing. The EU action in 2015 prompted the Thai government to get stricter with the fishery industry.

Published : April 07, 2022