3,000 Thai fishing boats face being beached

BANGKOK - More than 3,000 mid-sized fishing boats in Thailand will have to stop fishing from July 1 because they do not meet the government criteria to register under new rules aimed at combating illegal fishing.

The anti-IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) rules came in the wake of a warning issued to Thailand by the European Union, which gave the major seafood exporter six months to tackle the menace or face a possible trade ban on seafood imports to the EU.

Today is the deadline for registration of boats under the new rules, but fishing operators have already started clamouring for an extension till September, reported the Bangkok Post.

On Monday, they submitted a petition to Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, asking him to postpone the deadline.

The fishing operators from all 22 coastal provinces in Thailand said they would suffer monthly losses of 15 billion baht (S$594 million) unless the rules were relaxed.

"We do not want to stop fishing or break the law, but we can't carry out our business due to severe legal curbs," said Mr Mongkol Sukcharoenkana, vice-president of the National Fisheries Association of Thailand, on Monday.

According to the Command Centre for Combating Illegal Fishing, which was set up on the orders of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, boats that have not been registered, do not have the required licences, do not have fishing gear that matches the type they registered with, or lack the required vessel monitoring equipment will face legal action.

Those who break the regulations face a maximum of three years' imprisonment and a 300,000-baht fine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2015, with the headline '3,000 Thai fishing boats face being beached'. Print Edition | Subscribe