Mr Anucha, speaking at Phuket Fishing Port in Rassada, assured the local fishermen that the government intends to solve their problems “effectively to be sustainable”.
Joined by other senior associates at the Prime Minister’s Office, and by Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panapong, Mr Anucha explained that the purpose of his visit was to monitor the progress of the requirement for large fishing vessels to be linked to the government’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and the installation of an Automatic Identification System (AIS) device on board.
Mr Anucha’s review comes as he has been assigned to serve as the chair of the national committee tasked with overseeing issues affecting the Fishermen’s Association of Thailand.
For reasons unexplained, Phuket commercial fishing vessel operators have objected to the legality of the being required to have the devices installed.
The requirement was instituted among a slew of new laws under the national government’s campaign to clamp down on human trafficking in the area.
Of note, the location tracking system would also be able to determine whether a fishing boat had been near coral reefs or other protected areas.
Mr Anucha assured the fishermen that the Prime Minister was concerned about problems affecting fishermen in the area and was working to solve the problem
“There is a strong need for resolution. We must be careful in solving the problem because in some cases the problem is related to legal issues. For information for consideration and troubleshooting to be correct according to the relevant laws or regulations to prevent new problems that may arise later along with urging to find solutions for both the government and fishermen to benefit from both sides on the basis of good cooperation and understanding,” he said.
As for concerns about, operators’ information will be disclosed to the public. Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office said
He urged the fishermen not to worry about the installation of an AIS device.
“The information provided by the devices is encrypted and will be available only to relevant officials and used for ship tracking purposes only,” he said.
The operator will be responsible for intentional damage to the device only, he added.
Also raised was the official request to extend the period that fishermen may legally fish in specified waters that are regulated by law.
“As for the proposal for an additional 30 fishing days, we ask everyone to understand the context of the state of natural integrity to achieve ecological balance, and the need for safety during monsoon season,” Mr Anucha said.
“However, the various issues that have been presented will be brought to a meeting to find solutions to the problems in order to continue to effectively solve the problems of the Fisheries Association of Thailand,” he said.
Mr Minister continually emphasised that the government had not abandoned the common people. The government has not ignored people’s situation and was “working very hard on alleviating their suffering”, he said.
“We ask the people to understand the rules, regulations and measures as well, because the government wants to do everything to get them [fishermen] legally entered into the system to meet international standards… But the government has never abandoned the people in helping them to live their lives, to have work in accordance with the rules so that people have a better quality of life,” he said.
No other official business conducted by Mr Anucha during his visit to Phuket, whose activities are reported by the Thai press nearly daily, was reported.