Thailand hosts ASEAN forum focusing on IUU
Thailand hosted a regional cooperative forum focused on building sustainable fisheries and combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing on 3 August in Bangkok, the country’s capital city.
The forum was open to representatives of countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC). More than 100 people attended the event, including delegates from ASEAN-SEAFDEC member-states Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
The day-long event, “High-level Consultation on Regional Cooperation in Sustainable Fisheries Development Towards the ASEAN Economic Community: Combating IUU Fishing and Enhancing the Competitiveness of ASEAN Fish and Fishery Products,” was organized by Thailand’s Department of Fisheries and its Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. The consultation was officiated by Thailand Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives Theerapat Prayurasiddh.
“Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated or IUU fishing is considered as serious threat to the sustainability of fishery resources and marine environment, and is under serious concern of several countries including the ASEAN,” Prayurasiddhi said. “IUU fishing problems are however complicated considering the nature of fishery resources that are shared by several countries, labor-related issues, while products are being intra-regionally traded prior to exportation. These problems could not be addressed by countries individually, but require cooperation among concerned agencies and with regional collaboration to enhance the effectiveness in combating of IUU fishing.”
The forum focused on strengthening of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) programs, enhancing traceability of fish and fishery products from capture fisheries and aquaculture, managing fishing capacity, enhancing regional cooperation, addressing quality and safety requirements, addressing issues on labor in fisheries sector and enhancing fishery resources to mitigate impacts from IUU fishing, according to a press release from the government of Thailand.
Prayurasiddhi said he expected the forum will lead to closer cooperation among the ASEAN member states to combat IUU fishing and enhancing the competitiveness of fish and fishery products from ASEAN, “While the possibility for development of common ASEAN fisheries policy needs to be further explored leading to clearer picture toward sustainable fishery resources utilization in the light of the ASEAN economic community.”
Also at the forum, Adisorn Promthep, the director-general of Thailand’s Department of Fisheries, updated those in attendance on his country’s progress in combating IUU fishing.
He explained the new Royal Ordinance on Fisheries 2015 and the establishment of Marine Fisheries Management Plan to address problems on overfishing capacity via a freeze on the registration of new fishing vessels. He also described the process of replacing Thailand’s open-access policy to fisheries with limited-access through the application of the MSY system, as well as the addition of port-in/port-out controls.
Promthep also described Thailand’s progress on joining the Port State Measures Agreement and aligning itself with the rules of the agreement, which he said would “enhance control over foreign-flagged fishing vessels and prevent the entry of IUU fish and fishery products into the country.”