Thailand through its Department of Fisheries, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives hosted the ASEAN-SEAFDEC cooperative forum which was officiated by Dr Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
At the event, high-level officials from ASEAN and SEAFDEC Member Countries came up with the “Joint ASEAN-SEAFDEC Declaration on Regional Cooperation for Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Enhancing the Competitiveness of ASEAN Fish and Fishery Product.”
In attendance were over 100 delegates from ASEAN-SEAFDEC countries, comprising Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, officials of ASEAN, SEAFDEC as well as representatives from relevant international/regional organisations.
“Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated or IUU fishing is considered as serious threat to the sustainability of fishery resources and marine environment, and is under serious concern of several countries including the ASEAN,” said Dr Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
"Thailand has always joined hands with Southeast Asian countries and others in taking part to develop policy frameworks for combating IUU fishing. It is therefore a great pleasure for Thailand to host this High-level Consultation as it signifies the country’s seriousness towards combating IUU fishing, and enhancing cooperation with other countries to solve the issue."
The development of the Joint Declaration signals the seriousness in enhancing cooperation among countries to combat IUU fishing, taking into consideration aspects on: strengthening of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) programs; enhancing traceability of fish and fishery products from capture fisheries and aquaculture; managing fishing capacity; enhancing regional cooperation; addressing quality and safety requirements; addressing issues on labour in the fisheries sector; and enhancing fishery resources to mitigate impacts from IUU fishing.
Dr Adisorn Promthep, Director-General of the Department of Fisheries, also explained how Thailand's reformation of its fisheries policy with the new Royal Ordinance on Fisheries 2015, is also helping to better manage fisheries. Specifically, it is doing this through the establishment of the Marine Fisheries Management Plan to address problems on overfishing capacity by freezing the registration of new fishing vessels.
The fishing license regime has also been rectified by replacing open-access to fisheries with limited-access, with application of the Maximum Sustainable Yield system. Monitoring, control and surveillance systems have also been enhanced through the establishment of Port-in/Port-out controls.
A Catch Certificate Scheme has been developed to enhance the traceability of fish and fishery products, and a system has also been established to support the implementation of Port State Measures.
On 10 May 2016, Thailand submitted the Instrument of Accession to the Agreement on Port State Measures, which is one of the key international agreements aimed at combating IUU fishing.
It is anticipated that Thailand’s accession to the PSMA will enhance control over foreign-flagged fishing vessels and prevent the entry of IUU fish and fishery products into the country.