- Title: New monitoring system to eradicate illegal fishing
- Date: 9th December 2016
- Summary: AT SEA OFF SAMUT SAKHON PROVINCE, THAILAND (DECEMBER 9, 2016) (REUTERS) NAVY PATROL BOAT APPROACHING FISHING BOAT AT SEA FISHING BOAT SAILING FISHING BOAT NEXT TO PATROL SHIP VARIOUS OF NAVY GUARDS BOARDING FISHING BOAT FROM NAVAL SHIP VARIOUS CREW OPENING FISHING BOAT'S STORAGE FOR INSPECTION VARIOUS OF FISHING BOAT CREW SHOWING THEIR IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENTS
- Embargoed: 24th December 2016 13:17
- Location: AT SEA, SAMUT SAKHON PROVINCE, THAILAND / LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
- City: AT SEA, SAMUT SAKHON PROVINCE, THAILAND / LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
- Country: Thailand
- Reuters ID: LVA0015C5VLMT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Thailand's navy on Friday (December 9) said it would strengthen law enforcement by equipping fishing boats with a tracking system in the hope of regulating the country's fishing industry and protecting the marine habitats after years of neglect.
The Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing, organised a media trip off the Thai coast of Samut Sakhon Province to present the new Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).
The system will help eradicate illegal fishing and monitor working conditions of staff at the fishing industry, the Tahi Navy authorities said.
Max Schmid, deputy director of EJF (Environmental Justice Foundation) said the installment of the boat-tracking systems is just the beginning.
"To eradicate illegal fishing and human trafficking in Thailand seafood sector, we needed to tackle the root cause, which is over capacity. Vessels are catching 84 percent less than they were in the 1960s with the same effort. This is causing captains to use increasingly desperate methods such as illegal fishing and mistreating workers to cut costs. To address this, we need a scientifically informed decommissioning program that will permanently reduce the size of Thailand's fishing fleet," he said.
The European Union (EU) issued a "yellow card" to Thailand in April 2015, warning the country should clean up its poorly regulated fishing industry or face a ban on seafood exports.
Since then, the Thai government said it has registered most of its fishing fleet and banned ships fitted with push nets and bottom trawling equipment from going to sea.
As a result, more than 3,500 fishing boats have been unable to leave port for at least a year, according to the Thai Overseas Fisheries Association.
Navy officials are optimistic about the intensified law enforcement and efforts being put in place, saying that fishermen are gradually "understanding the law much better now".
Navy Commander Piyanan Kaewmanee said some of the vessels had been bought back by the government and some fishermen had been allowed the low interest rate loans to change their fishing gear or given money to change their occupation.
"These are examples that government take the step to ensure that the fishing and fishery resources sustain in Thai waters," Kaewmanee added.
More than 300,000 people are employed in Thailand's seafood sector, many of them migrant workers from neighboring countries.
Thailand's fish stocks peaked in 2006 at 856,212 tonnes of fish caught in the Gulf of Thailand, according to One Shared Ocean, a group that monitors marine issues.
Four years later it was down to 617,568 tones, the last year for which the group has data.
Thailand is the world's third-largest seafood exporter, shipping $7 billion worth of fish and seafood products in 2013, according to fisheries department data.
Exports to the EU were 481 million euros ($511 million) last year, EU figures show.
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