EU wants Thai fishing vessels to be trimmed

The number of commercial fishing vessels in Thailand will be trimmed down within the next two years as recommended by the European Union, Agriculture Minister Chatchai Sarikalya disclosed on Friday.

He said that an EU team of observers recently met with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan to follow up Thailand’s performance pertaining to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing problem.

The EU team expressed appreciation with the government’s sincerity to resolve the IUU fishing problem and confidence with the Thai authorities charged with solving the problem, said Gen Chatchai, adding, however, that the EU team raised concern about the high number of commercial fishing vessels which, said the EU team, do not reflect the reality of marine resources.

For the sake of sustainable fishing, the EU team suggested that the number of fishing vessels should be slashed. About 40,000 fishing vessels have been registered with the Fisheries Department.

One of the options to reduce the number of fishing vessels is to buy the legally-registered vessels from their owners to be used as artificial coral reefs, said the agriculture minister, adding that a fund might be set up to retrain the fishermen so that they can do other jobs once they are laid off.

He went on saying that the EU team had suggested that refrigerator ships should be equipped with vessel monitoring system so that they can be tracked at all time.