EU lifts Thailand’s yellow card on tackling illegal fishing

The European Commission has taken Thailand off its group of "warned countries" as recognition of its “progress” in tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Photo Credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

11 Jan 2019

The EU executive acknowledged that Thailand had “successfully addressed the shortcomings in its fisheries legal and administrative systems.”

For this reason it said it would lift the so-called "yellow card", in place since April 2015, a warning from the EU that the country at the time was not sufficiently tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The decision reverses the first step of a process that could have led to a complete import ban of marine fisheries products into the EU.


Earlier this week, the European Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "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 EU. I am excited that today we have a new committed partner in this fight."

Since the yellow card was issued, the Commission and Thailand have engaged, said the commissioner, in a constructive process of cooperation and dialogue. This has resulted in a major upgrade of the Thai fisheries governance in accordance with the international commitments of the country.

The commission says that Thailand has amended its fisheries legal framework in line with international law of the sea instruments.

A Commission spokesman said, “With these measures, Thai authorities now have all the necessary policies in place to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.”

“With these measures, Thai authorities now have all the necessary policies in place to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing” European Commission spokesman

Thailand plays a central role in the international supply chain for fisheries products. The highly developed Thai processing industry relies on raw materials from the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

The Commission said it now recognises the efforts demonstrated by Thailand to tackle human trafficking and to improve labour conditions in the fishing sector.

The spokesman added, “While not part of the bilateral dialogue on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the Commission and the European External Action Service have addressed with Thai authorities the serious human rights abuses and forced labour in the fishing industry.

“The Commission congratulates the Thai government on this commitment and stands ready to further support Thailand in its declared ambition to set an example for the region.”

He added, “The Commission will continue to work closely with Thailand to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to promote decent work conditions in the fishing industry.”

The global value IUU fishing is estimated at €10-€20 billion per year. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally a year, corresponding to at least 15 per cent of world catches. The EU is the world's biggest importer of fisheries products.

Fighting illegal fishing is part of the EU's commitment to ensure sustainable use of the sea and its resources, says the commission.

Since November 2012 the Commission has been in formal dialogues with 25 third countries which have been warned of the need to take effective action to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

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