EU Formally Warns Thailand for IUU Fishing, Clears Korea and the Philippines
After assessing Thailand’s fisheries governance, control and sanctioning system since 2011, the European Commission (EC) has issued the Thai government a formal warning, or “yellow card”, for failing to take sufficient measures to fight illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.
Thailand now joins the following countries on the EC’s list of yellow-carded countries:
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- Saint Kitts & Nevis
- Saint Vincent & Grenadines
Now that Thailand has received a yellow card, the EC will work with Thai authorities to develop a time-bound action plan that will address key deficiencies with Thailand’s management of its fisheries and fleets. Thailand will have 6 months to implement the corrective measures outlined in the action plan. If the EC decides that Thailand has made insufficient improvements after 6 months, Thailand could receive more serious sanctions and be demoted to a “red card” status, which could include a European Union (EU) ban on all Thai fishery products.
The EC’s recent announcement comes shortly after recent media coverage of Thailand’s systemic human rights abuses in its seafood sector. Last month, the Associated Press (AP) released a story and video that exposed how seafood was linked to forced labor, human trafficking, and other abuses occurring on Thai vessels in Indonesia. This tainted seafood can enter the supply chains of major U.S. grocery stores, as the U.S. imports many Thai seafood products. These findings are consistent with the human rights abuses documented on Thai vessels in a story and video released by The Guardian in June 2014.
We hope that by receiving a formal warning, Thailand will work with the EC to implement long-lasting and credible reforms that result in a more resilient, responsible Thai fishing industry. The EC’s approach to incentivizing countries to address and eliminate IUU fishing has resulted in positive improvements over the last year. In 2014, the EC removed Fiji, Togo, Panama, and Vanuatu from the yellow card list for demonstrating improved IUU governance. And on the same day the EC extended a yellow card to Thailand, it also announced that South Korea and the Philippines — two countries that received formal warnings in 2014 for IUU activities — have improved their IUU governance and legal systems, and have therefore been removed from the yellow-card list.
FishWise will continue to track developments with the EU’s IUU efforts. For further details about Thailand’s yellow-card status, please see the EC’s official press release here.