Thailand prepares for EU directive

By

Neil Ray, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Bangkok

Published on
April 6, 2009

With an estimated annual seafood catch of 3 million metric tons, Thailand is striving to ensure all the necessary procedures are in place for the European Union directive on illegal fishing, which is due to go into effect at the beginning of 2010.
 
The new rules stipulate that any seafood products originating from illegal sources will be banned. Khun Songsan Patavanitch, advisor to the Thai Overseas Fisheries Association, is confident fishing vessel operators will be ready to adhere to the new rules, but admits that with some 13,000 vessels in operation, enforcing the rules may be difficult.
 
"Captains of these trawlers will need to spend time reporting where their catch came from," he said.
 
The ban will apply to catches the EU suspects of being from IUU (illegal, unregulated or unreported) fisheries. The ban is intended to eradicate IUU fishing activities and, in turn, protect fish stocks and the environment.
 
To get access to EU markets, seafood exporters will be required to pass the EU "catch certification scheme," which will allow agencies to trace a catch and determine its origin.
 
Thailand currently exports 340,000 metric tons of shrimp and 354,000 metric tons of other seafood products, including tuna, annually. The seafood industry is worth some THB 94 billion (USD 2.7 billion, EUR 1.9 billion) to the country’s economy.
 
Thailand was the first country in Southeast Asia to invite EU officials to explain the new rules. It was one of eight countries selected as a test case for the EU.

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