Adisorn Promthep: European “yellow card” was net benefit for Thailand
Adisorn Promthep, the director general of Thailand’s Department of Fisheries, said the European Commission’s “yellow card” – an official warning given to the country in 2015 due to a lack of progress in tackling illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing – resulted in positive changes for his country.
Speaking at the Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS) annual meeting in Phuket, Thailand, on 30 September, Promthep said the yellow card resulted in “improved sustainability in the domestic industry,” moving the country to introduce formal management regulations and better regulatory enforcement, cutting down on IUU fishing and forced labor in Thailand.
The yellow card was lifted in January 2019, with the European Commission saying Thailand had taken sufficient action to have the warning removed.
SeaBOS was founded in 2016 with the objective of encouraging the world’s biggest seafood companies to engage in more collaborative, proactive corporate leadership in ocean stewardship. The initiative involves scientists from the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, the Royal Academy of Sciences in Sweden, and 10 of the largest seafood companies in the world.
The organization’s annual meeting was hosted by Thai Union and Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF), with the theme “Global Connectivity – Consolidating and Accelerating Change.” At the outset of the meeting, the two host companies issued a joint statement on tackling modern slavery to ensure their supply chains are free of illegal labor.
“Modern-day slavery is a global challenge, requiring collective efforts to eradicate it. In doing so during recent years, Thailand has mobilized contributions from the government, the private sector, civil society and other relevant stakeholders,” they said. ““We have made significant progress in all areas: including legislation, law enforcement, supply chain management, capacity building of stakeholders, application of technological innovation, among others. We stand ready to share our experiences with the international community and join hands with others to turn modern-day slavery into an issue of the past.”
Thai Union CEO Thiraphong Chansiri added a commitment to continue to work to eliminate human trafficking.
“At Thai Union, we are resolute in our commitment to fight human trafficking,” he said. “Supply chains in the seafood industry are incredibly complex, but we have implemented measures to combat potential risks including improved supply chain management, and we have conducted third-party audits of our suppliers. But we know we can’t fight this on our own, which is why we take a collaborative approach and work with various stakeholders as we pursue genuine change.”
Charoen Pokphand Foods CEO Prasit Boondoungprasert also reiterated a commitment to battle human trafficking.
“Respect for human rights is our top priority, especially in our labor recruitment process and welfare practices,” Boondoungprasert said. “In doing so, we have supported the Fishermen Life Enhancement Center (FLEC) in Songkhla province of Thailand. The center provides a number of training packages to promote the well-being of fishing crews.”
At the SeaBOS meeting, attendees agreed to increase collaboration to combat (IUU) fishing and forced labor, while also strengthening the links between science and industry to increase sustainable seafood production to meet growing consumer demand, according to a press release. Other areas of agreement included joint work to improve seafood traceability, sustainable fisheries management, and strengthening the links between science and industry to increase sustainable seafood production to meet growing consumer demand.
In addition, the members of SeaBOS established a new task force on climate resilience, with the goal of addressing the impacts of climate change on the seafood industry. The task force will work to find ways to reduce the carbon footprint of seafood production and publicize the environmental and health benefits of eating more seafood.
Photo courtesy of SeaBOS