Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

Focus

EU threatens Thailand with fish product ban

The EU gave Tuesday (21 April) a "yellow card" over illegal fishing to Thailand, one of the EU’s main suppliers of cheap fish products.

"As a result of a thorough analysis and a series of discussions with Thai authorities since 2011, the Commission has denounced the country's shortcomings in its fisheries monitoring, control and sanctioning systems and concludes that Thailand is not doing enough," said the EU commission in a statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

A procedure of dialogue is now open with Thailand, which has six months to take measures or face a EU ban of its products.

"As a minimum, control and monitoring measures and enforcement measures should come into place," said EU fisheries commissioner Karmenu Vella at a press conference in Brussels.

If Thai authorities are not cooperative enough, the EU will "move to further drastic measures like trade sanctions," he said.

Under its 2010 regulation on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the EU asks that Thailand "certify the origin and legality of the fish, thereby ensuring the full traceability of all marine fishery products".

Thailand is one of EU’s biggest importer countries, supplying mainly shrimps, prawns or canned tuna.

Some 146,000 tons of Thai fisheries products were imported into the EU last year, for a total amount of €642 million.

The EU is Thailand’s third market for fishery products after the US and Japan.

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF "welcomed the European Commission’s warning".

"Thai authorities exert very little control over their fishing vessels, with many activities illegally damaging fish stocks and the marine environment," said Steve Trent, EJF’s executive director in the statement.

"This is linked to some of the most exploitative and inhuman working conditions documented anywhere," he added.

In a recent report, EFJ estimated that about 70,000 "undocumented illegal workers", many of them Burmese, work in the fishing industry.

The EU, however, made no reference to reports of slavery and violence used in illegal fishing in Thailand.

"Our rules on illegal fishing do not address working conditions on-board fishing vessels," a EU commission press officer wrote EUobserver in an email.

"However, we believe that improvements in the fisheries control system will also improve the control of labour conditions on-board fishing vessels," she wrote, adding that other commissioners "are working on the issues of human trafficking and slave labour in Thailand".

Meanwhile the EU cleared South Korea and the Philippines after other "yellow card" procedures started in 2013 and 2014.

"The two fishing nations have carried out appropriate reforms of their legal systems and are now equipped to tackle illegal fishing," said the EU commission in a statement.

This decision gave rise to mixed reactions.

The delisting of Korea and the Philippines "is further evidence of the positive and motivating incentive for states to adopt measures to stop illegal fishing," said the EJF, Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF in their statement.

But Green MEP Linnea Engström said "the decision to let South Korea and the Philippines off the hook and rescind their yellow cards is premature and a mistake".

"It seems the Commission is more concerned about maintaining good relations with Korea as a trading partner," she said in a statement.

Unreported and illegal fishing account for 19 percent of the reported value of catches worldwide, according to EU commission figures. It represents an annual €10 billion market.

This article was updated on Wednesday 22 Aprill to include a EU Commission statement on slave about in Thailand.

Taiwan could face EU fish ban

The European Commission issued a yellow card to Taiwan, as well as to the Comoros, over illegal and unregulated fishing. A decision on a ban will be taken in 6 months.

Opinion

Will EU suspend trade deal with Cambodia?

The EU has been slow to react to the collapse of Cambodian democracy - but if it ever chooses to use it, Brussels has substantial influence and leverage over Cambodia.

News in Brief

  1. EU tables plan for joint approach to 5G security
  2. MEPs agree to scrap summer time clock changes by 2021
  3. European Parliament votes on reform of copyright
  4. New French-German parliament meets for first time
  5. EU parliament reduces polling ahead of elections
  6. UK parliament votes to take control of Brexit process
  7. EU publishes no-deal Brexit contingency plans
  8. EU urges Israel and Gaza to re-establish calm

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. EU lawmakers pass contentious copyright law
  2. France takes Chinese billions despite EU concerns
  3. Europe before the elections - heading back to the past?
  4. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  5. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  6. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  7. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  8. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us