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2 Feb 2019

Environmental Justice Foundation

Thailand: Environmental Justice Foundation identifies areas of improvement and lauds ratification of Work in Fishing Convention

"Thailand is first Asian country to ratifiy international standards for work in fishing," 31 January 2019

...Thailand became the first country in Asia to ratify the Work in Fishing Convention, which sets basic decent standards for work in the fishing industry. This shows important commitment and leadership for the region. But there are still improvements to be made, and a recent proposition that 16-year-olds be allowed to work on vessels may lead to further abuse.

Thailand has made strides forward in eradicating the illegal fishing and human rights abuse ...the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) can attest. The country’s monitoring, surveillance, and enforcement capabilities have shown good progress, including innovative efforts such as the use of covert patrol vessels to catch vessels fishing illegally in Thai waters...

However, EJF has also found lingering shortcomings that prevent Thailand’s fishing industry from becoming truly ethical and sustainable...[I]nspections are not always rigorous, and EJF has identified cases of captains signing on behalf of crew to confirm they were given breaks, and migrant crews’ payment documents and ATM cards being held by the vessel owner on shore.

The protective measures are good in theory, but enforcement would be difficult, if not impossible, says EJF. “Thailand is to be applauded for taking the significant step of ratifying C188,” says EJF’s Executive Director Steve Trent...

EJF also points to the fact even industry representatives have reservations. Mongkol Sukcharoenkana, chairman of the National Fishing Association of Thailand – the main body representing the interests of commercial vessel owners in Thailand, was quoted this week as saying that hiring under 18s would be a step backwards despite being "technically" allowed within the C188 framework.