The European Union (EU) has told Thailand – the globe’s third-largest seafood exporter – that it has six months to “crack down on illegal fishing”…or face a trade ban. If it fails to act, the nation could face an embargo on its fish exports beginning this fall. EU boats could also be prevented from fishing in Thai waters.
Thailand is accused of having serious flaws in its fisheries management systems. Karmenu Vella, the environment, maritime affairs and fisheries commissioner for the EU said, “There are no controls whatsoever and no efforts being made whatsoever and illegal fishing is almost totally allowed.”
A high percentage of the Thai fishing fleet is unregistered and outside government control. Even registered vessels often sail without strong catch documentation and operation certificates.
“They have a long way to go,” an EU source told the Guardian. “But we are not looking for trade sanctions so it is really up to them to decide.”
The EU’s action is referred to as a yellow card.
“Yellow-carding has been proved to be a strong incentive for states to combat illegal fishing,” said Tony Long, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Ending Illegal Fishing project. “Commissioner Vella has shown global leadership in implementing the EU’s tough illegal fishing regulation against such a significant fishing state.”
Illegal fishing boats in Thailand have also been accused of using slave labor.