“Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan ordered every government agency to work effectively so that the European Union will lift its warning on Thai seafood imports,” ,” Gen Ek explained.
As a result, the Port in-Port out Control Centre (Pipo) at the main fishing port in Phuket opened on May 6,” he added.
Pipo chief Capt Preecha Tantirak credited the Pipo port-clearance centre for being able to keep track of the fishing vessels using the port, he explained.
“Currently, there are 280 fishing boats in Phuket, but only 120 of these boats weigh 30 gross tonnes or more and hence must report to the centre,” he said.
Capt Preecha also credited inter-agency co-ordination for the progress made in cracking down on human trafficking and illegal fishing practices in and around Phuket.
“Many of the problems in the fishing industry in Phuket have been solved. Most of these problems are about the vessels, the workers and licenses for fishing, so we focused on fixing more than problem at a time,” he said.
“We asked officials from many departments to support us, and the Phuket Provincial Labour Protection and Welfare Office helped us with labour registration. So everything has become a good result.”
The move by the Thai government to target severe irregularities in Thailand’s fishing industry follows the EU in April giving Thailand, the world’s third-largest seafood exporter, six months to crack down on illegal fishing or face a trade ban on its fish imports. (See story here.)
It also follows the US keeping Thailand on the lowest-possible level, Tier 3, in its new report on human trafficking. “The Government of Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so,said the report, issued in July. (See story here.)
The report concluded that “corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes continued to impede anti-trafficking efforts” and noted that no prominent cases have yet gone to court.