Thanathorn accused of protecting fishermen who flout IUU regulations
Future Forward party leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, has been criticized for lacking an understanding of the IUU (illegal, unreported, unregulated) fishing regulations in his attempt to woo owners of commercial fishing vessels affected by the regulations, because of their illegal fishing practices.
Mr. Thanaporn Sriyakul, an advisor to the Thai Fisheries Department, said today that Mr. Thanathorn might have better understood the fishing problem after his visits to the southern provinces of Ranong and Phuket to meet with the fishermen.
However, he admitted he felt betrayed by Thanathorn who, during his visit to the eastern province of Trat to meet with fishermen there, told them that his party would propose that parliament should change articles 34, 69 and 81 of the amended Fisheries Act.
He explained that article 81 requires, under IUU regulations, commercial fishing boats to be equipped with VMS2 or GMS, so they can be tracked by officials concerned to prevent them from illegal fishing in the waters of other countries.
The fishing boat skippers are also required to prepare a logbook, which is an internationally accepted standard and also to report to the control centre (PIPO) every time their vessels leave and arrive at ports.
Mr. Thanaporn noted that the revocation of article 81 would put the Thai fishing industry back to the old system of illegal and unregulated fishing, which would subject Thai fishery products to bans by EU.
Article 69 of the law bans the night fishing of katak, or small fish which are used as animal feed, because the fish can more be easily caught at night, he said. He warned, however, that since the fish constitutes an important part of the food chain, their disappearance from the sea will affect larger fish which feed on them.
Regarding Article 34, which bans small fishing boats from fishing outside coastal areas, Mr. Thanaporn explained that the law has not yet been put into force and small-scale fishermen have not been affected.
The fishery advisor accused Thanathorn of only listening to the problems of the owners of commercial fishing boats affected by the IUU regulation and the amended fisheries law. He said he doubted Thanathorn was protecting the interests of the majority of fishermen or the interests of fishermen who respect the law.