April 23, 2016

 

Thailand dodges EU's 'red card'

 

 

Thailand is keeping its "yellow card" for now, but the threat of a red card, or total ban on its seafood exports, still hangs as the EU found the country not doing enough to improve its fisheries and labor practices. 

 

As this developed, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered the relief of the Department of Fisheries' director-general, Wimol Jantrarotai,

for allegedly failing to finish the work according to the set timetable. Wimol was replaced by Adisorn Promthep, the deputy director-general.

 

The European Commission said it attaches particular importance to the ongoing dialogue with Thailand, adding it is currently evaluating progress. "The dialogue is proving difficult and there remain serious concerns about the steps taken by Thailand to fight IUU (illegal, unreported, and unregulated) fishing activities". This means, it said, that "further action by the EC cannot be ruled out".

 

"A meeting with the Thai authorities in May will be a new opportunity for them to show their good will and commitment", it added.

 

An official said the EU had received less evidence of reform from the government while third countries and NGOs reported more evidence of illegal practicesand lack of enforcement, according to a report by the Associated Press, which made an exposé in December detailing Thailand's slave-labour condition in its shrimp-peeling work stations. Thai authorities brushed aside the report as "wrong".

 

Gov't slow

 

Prayut admitted on Thursday that the government had been slow in resolving illegal fishing conditions, as a result of which the EU would extend its "yellow card" sanctions on Thailand's seafood exports, according to the Bangkok Post.

 

Thai Ambassador to the UN Virachai Plasai, was reported to have warned that Thailand could be slapped with a red card by the EU.

 

Meanwhile, the EU said Thursday it had slapped Kiribati, Sierra Leone and Trinidad & Tobago with yellow cards as they risked being uncooperative in the fight against illegal fishing.

 

At the same time, it has lifted the red card on Sri Lanka, saying it had significantly improved its national fisheries governance. The country was issued with a yellow card in 2012 and a red card in February 2015.

 

Sri Lanka joins the list of countries (including Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Korea, the Philippines, Fiji, Belize, Panama, Togo and Vanuatu) that have reformed their systems, following a warning by the EU.-Rick Alberto

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