Thailand’s yellow card for actions against illegal fishing lifted

Published on
January 9, 2019

The European Commission has removed Thailand from a list of countries on warning about their lack of progress in tackling illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU).

Thailand received the so-called “yellow card” caution in April 2015 – essentially the strongest warning the European Commission hands out that doesn’t carry any formal penalty attached.  If Thailand didn’t take sufficient action, the E.U. threatened a red card, which would prohibit Thailand, the third-largest seafood exporter in the world, from exporting its seafood to the European Union. 

The rescinding of the yellow card shows the commission is now satisfied that this has resulted in a major upgrade of Thailand’s fisheries governance, in accordance with the international commitments of the country.

By removing the warning, the commission acknowledged that Thailand has amended its fisheries legal framework in line with international law of the sea instruments. The country has also reinforced compliance with its obligations as a flag, port, coastal, and market state, included clear definitions in its legislation, and set up a deterrent regime of sanctions. 

Additionally, it has strengthened control mechanisms for the national fishing fleet and enhanced its monitoring, control and surveillance systems. This includes remote monitoring of fishing activities and a robust scheme of inspections at port.

The E.C. said that with these measures, Thai authorities now have all the necessary policies in place to prevent, deter, and eliminate IUU.

"Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing damages global fish stocks but it also hurts the people living from the sea, especially those already vulnerable to poverty. Fighting illegal fishing is therefore a priority for the E.U.,” said Karmenu Vella, European commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries. “I am excited that today we have a new committed partner in this fight.”

The commission also recognized Thailand’s efforts to tackle human trafficking and to improve labor conditions in the fishing sector. While not part of the bilateral dialogue on IUU, the commission and the European External Action Service have addressed serious human rights abuses and forced labor in the fishing industry with Thai authorities. 

Thailand also recently announced the ratification of the International Labor Organization's Convention No. 188 on Work in Fishing (C188), the first country in Asia to do so.

Since 2012, the commission has been in formal dialogue with 25 third-countries that have been warned of the need to take effective action to fight IUU. Once significant progress is observed, the commission can end the dialogue, lifting the pre-identification status or yellow card.

The global value of IUU fishing is estimated at EUR 10 to 20 billion (USD 11.4 to 22.9 billion) per year. It involves between 11 and 26 million metric tons (MT) of illegally-caught fish, corresponding to at least 15 percent of world catches. 

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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