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Phuket fishing operators protest EU regulations

PHUKET: Some 30 operators from Phuket’s commercial fishing fleet yesterday (April 9) staged a protest against what they called overburdening laws introduced to ensure Thai fishing operators comply with EU regulations.

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Tuesday 10 April 2018, 10:13AM

The protesters, carrying placards that read, “We don’t want EU” and “Stop EU threatening Thailand and Thai fishing industry”, peacefully gathered at the Rassada Fishing Port at about 3pm.

Speaking to the press, Duangjan Eakthana and Wanee Sripaowadee said fishing operators were tired of trying to comply with the new laws, which they said were impeding their ability to fish and costing the industry too much.

“The tightening of the regulations is killing us,” Ms Duangjan said.

“The new laws are not fair. You say ‘return happiness to the people’, but NGOs are quietly wiping us out. We are tired of the new laws... Let’s see some reality. Fishermen do not want to be in the EU,” she added.

Ms Duanjan pointed out that although he fellow fishing operators disagreed with the new regulations, they were being forced to comply, or be forced out of business.

“If we don’t abide by the law, there will be arrests and heavy penalties, including large fines and even equipment seized,” she noted.

“We ask for justice from the government and related agencies because operators are not able to bear this burden,” Ms Duanjan said.

The protesters listed 17 regulations that they say need reviewing, including the requirement of VMS tracking devices and the restricting fishing of each vessel to 255 days per year.

Also contested was the need to report two hours before and after every time a fishing boat enters and leaves port.

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“If a boat is to leave port at 7am, you have to register your departure by 5am or it will be too late,” Ms Duangjan explained.

“But if the boat or the crew are not ready by that time, the boat cannot leave. You have cancel the departure report and wait two hours until you can start again, which costs us time fishing,” she added.

“Also, VMS tracking devices currently in use cost B20,000-30,000 per unit and the fee for using the system costs B1,500 to B2,000 per month. But next year it will be compulsory to upgrade to ‘Gen 2’, which costs from B50,000 to B70,000 for the equipment and the monthly fee will increase to B4,000 to B5,000 baht per month.

“There is no need to change this. It is a wasteful mistake,” Ms Duangjan said.

Other issues were the problems in maintaining an accurate logbook for each vessel, and fixing any inaccurate entries, she added.

“And the staff of each agency have to review the document, but there is no consistency among the authorities although they come from a single agency. The practice is not the same,” she said.

However, also noted in the complaints were the regulations forcing employers to be able to prove by documents the wages paid to crewmen, including migrant workers, and holding the employer responsible for the safekeeping of all official registration documents of migrant workers in their employment.

The two key issues were introduced in the crackdown on human slavery within the Thai fishing industry exposed in 2015 that led to the EU sanctions on fishing product imports from Thailand into Europe.



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Jor12 | 23 April 2018 - 17:45:58

Well of course they do...just like any country has certain obligations to its citizens. That's what Parliaments do. However, it's the dictates of those Parliaments over the sovereignty of others and usurping or ignoring the functions of world bodies that is the in the China example. That is the real world. Don't know which world you live in. The EU is not the only market fo...

Rorri_2 | 23 April 2018 - 12:06:26

The EU has a right, and legal obligation,  to look after its member states, same as Thailand looks after its own, whether you like it or not, no different to people who choose free range eggs to caged. You need to live in the real world.

Jor12 | 22 April 2018 - 19:11:59

It's not what I think, it's common sense. The EU thinks it's the savior of the world and flex's it's muscle as a consumer and purveyor of justice of countries that have little in common, whereas the rest of world doesn't give a rats a..about them. They're a bit like the Chinese, with 9 dashes they put on the map they think they own the South China sea and to hell with r...

Rorri_2 | 22 April 2018 - 10:11:01

"The EU can do what it likes... etc" it DOESN'T matter what you think, the EU is the customer, but it seems you support slavery, murder, abuse of workers, and the destruction of fish stocks, thank God many, in the world, think differently to you. If Thailand does not wish to "comply" with international commitments, then that is Thailands problem... no one elses.

Jor12 | 21 April 2018 - 19:26:31

The EU can do what it likes...and it does. Like may other legal sanctions, it's taken on the fisheries role by developing its own plan to implement the commitments agreed at an international level and bullies countries to comply, usurping the role of the UN. Good to see protests. 

Sir Burr | 21 April 2018 - 12:30:46

The EU is perfectly entitled to set conditions to ensure that the products that they purchase are sustainably harvested.
Don't want to comply? Then you can't sell to the EU. Go find another market that isn't so fussy.
All they are doing is putting environment ahead of greed. All the Thai fishermen are doing is putting greed ahead of the environment.

Rorri_2 | 21 April 2018 - 11:10:08

"Couldn't agree more with your protest. Good on you! Who wants the EU anyway. Just ignore them. They think they are world law enforcer," so wrong, the EU is a "consumer" who demands certain conditions are to be applied to the product that enters its borders, no diffent to a barmaid, if her "product" is mmm "tainted", then no buyers.

Jor12 | 20 April 2018 - 18:07:13

Couldn't agree more with your protest. Good on you! Who wants the EU anyway. Just ignore them. They think they are world law enforcer. 

Capt B | 20 April 2018 - 13:28:50

the Inmarsat-3 (I-3) constellation of satellites are reaching the end of their lifespan, which has made it necessary for Inmarsat to roll out the end of life process for several of their legacy services, and to migrate those that will continue onto Inmarsat-4 (I-4). One such service to be migrated is Inmarsat C. 

Capt B | 20 April 2018 - 11:48:24

".....restricting fishing of each vessel to 255 days per year".
I doubt very much if this is an EU Requirement. For restrictions on net dragging sea bed trawlers working the same area every year within the Thai EEZ this comes down to Thai Fisheries Management, not the EU. There should be zero day restrictions on Thai Flagged Fishing Vessels operating in International waters.  

Capt B | 20 April 2018 - 10:18:37

There is no slavery in the Thai Fishing Industry & never was. Fake News. Yes, the VMS & filling out a Daily Fishing Log Book is necessary. Been there, done that. Gen 2 system would refer to CCTV cameras onboard & extra data @ extra cost. What I do not like is Inmarsat's monopoly. The much cheaper alternative: ONEWEB WORLD  USD$7 per month ? "Halo-Fi"

Kurt | 10 April 2018 - 23:39:37

Fishermen, welcome in the global fishing industry. 
Times to do what you just want are over, this includes no more slaves on board thai fishing boats, proper care of crew and fair wages. No more illegal fishing.
"We don't want EU" ?  Ok, up to you, than not sell fish to EU.
Comply with international laws and rules, or forget it with EU.
Thai Government understands, now up to you ...

malczx7r | 10 April 2018 - 16:34:45

Lets face it, it's not just the fishermen who don't want to follow rules the whole country doesn't, no helmets, ignoring red lights etc and then there's RTP who can't follow the rule of enforcing the law.

BenPendejo | 10 April 2018 - 10:39:47

Typical...Thais complaining about having to follow rules...they just want to go do whatever they want, even including over-fishing, pilfering fish stocks, and using slave labor from Myanmar. This from a group of people that make their living from the sea, yet treat it worse than anyone, cutting nets free, polluting waterways, and throwing trash overboard as a routine practice.

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