On 8 January 2019, the EU formally announced the lifting of a yellow card for Thailand in recognition of the substantive progress Thailand has made in tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing since 2015. The yellow card issued by the EU prompted Thailand to overhaul its entire fishing industry to meet international standards.
Representing the Thai government, General Chatchai Sarikulaya, Deputy Prime Minister, travelled to Brussels to take part in the joint press conference with H.E. Mr. Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, at the EU Headquarters in Brussels. During the press conference, he emphasised the successful cooperation between Thailand and the EU in combatting IUU fishing, which encompasses legal reform, fishery management, fleet management, monitor, control and surveillance, traceability and law enforcement. These measures led to the EU’s acknowledgement that Thailand possesses one of the most effective systems for combatting IUU fishing in the region, which can serve as a model for other states facing similar problems.
The Deputy Prime Minister stated that, in its capacity as ASEAN Chair this year, Thailand will give priority to promoting sustainability in all dimensions, including sustainable fishing, which will be one of the deliverables during Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship. He also proposed enhancing the existing cooperation with the EU on all dimensions of marine sustainability, particularly the conservation of marine resources and marine environment. This in turn will help the region attain Goal 14 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.
Moreover, the Deputy Prime Minister has underscored the importance that Thailand attaches not only to sustainable fishing, but also to ethical fisheries practices. Thailand has pledged to ensure that the working conditions in its domestic fishing industry meet the International Labour Organization (ILO) standards and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Thailand will also take lead by becoming the first country in Asia to ratify the ILO Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (C188) by the end of January 2019.
On the same occasion, the EU Commissioner of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission praised the hard and honest work undertaken by Thailand which has enabled Thailand to carry out its international obligations to comprehensively fight IUU fishing. He also commended the success of Thailand in tackling IUU fishing in all dimensions and the accomplishment of the Thai government to address the labour issue in the fisheries sector. These efforts have resulted in the comprehensive reform and an overhaul of the entire fisheries sector of Thailand. Today’s announcement epitomised the successful cooperation between the EU and Thailand which would not cease after the lifting of the yellow card. Indeed, the EU and Thailand will continue the fight against IUU fishing both at the regional level as well as to promote ocean governance at the global level accordingly.
Prior to the joint press conference, the Deputy Prime Minister attended a bilateral meeting with Commissioner Vella to exchange views on possible future cooperation on promoting sustainable fishing and marine sustainability. At a reception for European importers of Thai seafood products on 9 January 2019, the Deputy Prime Minister, in his statement, will reassure the importers that Thai seafood products and marine animals are IUU free. Thailand will provide reassurances of its being a flag state capable of managing its vessels both inside and outside Thai waters, a coastal state that can allocate resources effectively, a port state that can prevent illegal vessels from landing their catches inside its territory, and a market state that has no aquatic animals derived from IUU fishing in its entire production and processing lines for exportation.