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Associations Vow to Increase Sustainable Fishing, Production

07 November 2013

THAILAND - The Thai fishery industry and related stakeholders have vowed to increase sustainable fishing and production in order to protect the environment and promote acceptance for all foreign shipments.

The Nation reports that eight private-sector fishery bodies signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage legal and responsible fishery throughout their supply chain in an attempt to engage more on food safety and food security, and to reduce pressure from trading partners that are increasingly concerned about sustainability.

Pornsil Patchrintanakul, president of the Thai Feed Mill Association, said the MoU was a good step towards increased sustainability in the Kingdom's fishery industry.

Not only fisherman, but also all other stakeholders in the sector will help develop the ecological system, which has been gradually damaged in line with the rising world population and expanding economic growth.

Greater concern about the environment would require the adoption of high technology and entail additional costs, resulting in higher food prices - but not to the extent that consumers would be significantly affected, he said.

For the long run, the MoU pact should benefit Thailand' s growth, as all nations would accept the fishery standard attained and trade more with the country, he added.

The private-sector bodies that signed the MoU are the National Fisheries Association of Thailand, the Overseas Fisheries Association, the Thai Fishmeal Producers Association, the Thai Feed Mill Association, the Thai Frozen Foods Association, the Thai Shrimp Association, the Thai Tuna Industry Association and the Thai Food Processors' Association.

Under the MoU, all stakeholders will focus on fishery products that must be the result of appropriate trawling equipment and methods that do not harm the environment; use legal labour; and attain the required food safety standards.

Three measures will be implemented under the pilot "Project for the development and promotion of fishery products in compliance with responsible fisheries and production standard".

First, there will be a focus on short-term practice by businesses minimising the buying of fresh fish from both trawlers and fish mills for three months of every year, from 1 April to 30 June. This is aimed at reducing the over-fishing of small fish.

Second, all participants will be encouraged to increase the mesh size of nets, install a vessel-monitoring system and use legal labour.

Finally, all stakeholders will be developed throughout the supply chain, from fishermen and fishing vessels to fishmeal factories and feed mills, by meeting international standard requirements such as IFFO RS, which covers marine ingredients.

Pornsil said the MoU would enable Thailand to maximise benefit from the use of marine resources, encourage the production of fishery products to meet responsible-fishing requirements, and allow the industry to step further along the path of security and sustainability.

Initially, the Royal Fishery Department, the National Fisheries Association of Thailand and the Overseas Fisheries Association should play a key role in drawing up regulations for legal enforcement among the Kingdom's 10,000 fishing vessels, as well as the setting up of a monitoring body.

The government should amend the fishery law and jointly consider subsidy measures with the private sector for fishermen, who will shoulder higher production costs as part of the enhancement programme, he said.

In the next few years, however, the agreement reached should lead to the sector achieving sustainable fishery and full acceptance by importing countries, he added.

Poj Aramwattananont, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association, said the MoU marked a major advance for developing the fishery industry's supply chain.

More action will also be taken by all concerned so that a sector which involves millions of workers can grow sustainably, he said.

TheFishSite News Desk

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