EU import Ban could cost up to 30 Billion Baht

Thailand raised the issue of possible loosing up to 30 billion THB per year if the EU confirms their threat to ban fish imports from the kingdom due to illegal fishing and human trafficking involved in Thailand’s rattled fishing industry.

The world’s third largest seafood producer was left red-faced Tuesday when Brussels issued it with a “yellow card” for failing to clamp down on illegal fishing, saying fisheries monitoring, controls and punishments were inadequate and had to be brought up to international standards.

A “red card” and eventual EU import ban of fish would follow if the kingdom failed to clean up its fishing industry within six months, the EU Commission warned.

As has been reported for years, the Thai fishing industry is rife with forced labor, both on the high seas and within seafood processing and packing plants,” Mark Lagon, a former ambassador for trafficking in persons, said, according to the Associated Press.

Thailand’s fishing industry accounts for 40 percent of the country’s food exports and is a mainstay of the economy. Its prawn industry is the world’s largest.

But its image has been battered by allegations of ships using human trafficking victims and slave labor, as well as taking illegal catches – practices critics say successive governments have turned a blind eye to.

Thailand’s junta, which took over last May in a coup and has vowed to kick start the kingdom’s flagging economy, has said it is determined to combat illegal fishing, including a plan to roll out widespread GPS devices on fishing vessels.

But the bill will not become law for another 60 days, something Petipong said the junta might need to fast track if needs be. “I think we can beat the 180-day deadline,” he said.

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