Strict implementation of the international Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) is helping curb Thailand’s notoriety as a hub for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, according to the Fisheries Department.
Thailand recently detained five foreign fishing vessels and rejected some 400 tonnes of marine catch over suspicions of IUU fishing, said the department’s director-general Adisorn Promthep.
He said the National Fisheries Association of Thailand and the Thai Fish Culture Farmers Association had raised concerns over illegal trawlers involved in the significant increase in marine catch landed on Thai shores in the past five months, to meet high domestic and export demand. He added that consumers were now voicing worries about the safety standard of seafood.
Adisorn said the Fisheries Department was inspecting catches from every trawler to ensure legitimacy, checking their fishing licences with the regional fisheries management organisations, and more data on the boats from the VMS (vessel monitoring system) and AIS (automatic identification system) data.
To ensure that marine catch shipped to Thailand was IUU-free, he said his agency was also coordinating with regional organisations, including the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency and the FISH-i Africa covering African coasts.
The Fisheries Department is also applying measures under the PSMA – a binding international agreement that aims to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in the practice from using ports and landing their catches, which has been adopted by various countries since June 2017 – along with Thai customs regulation in checking seafood imported in containers, Adisorn said. Thai authorities had so far refused entry to 1,160 tonnes of marine catch in 58 containers, and made prosecutions over 60 tonnes of seafood smuggled in three containers that were seized, he added.
The department has also implemented measures to curb disease among live fish imported for farming in Thailand and to prevent the dangerous levels of five chemical residues – shloramphenicol, nitrofurans, malachite green, leucomalachite green, lead and mercury – in fish and marine catches, he said.