Thai fishing communities gather in Bangkok this week to renew their call on the government to enforce regulations to protect juvenile fish.
Today, a group of local fisherfolk from southern Thailand requested to meet Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, acting prime minister and the chairman of the National Fisheries Commission. Advocating for a new regulation to regulate the size of marine catches, they want the Commission to include the issues in its upcoming meeting on 30 September.
Blocked by the police, the group tried to make their way to the parliament this morning. The group is led by Piya Thetyam, chairman of the Federation of Thai Fisherfolk Association.
On World Ocean Day in June, the fisherfolk and the local NGO, Thai Sea Watch Association, embarked on a 14-day journey from the Deep South of Thailand to Bangkok to raise awareness and submit a petition to protect marine life to the government.
Thailand received a ‘yellow card’ from the EU in 2015 for illegal fishing practices. The amended version of the Fisheries Act has a short section on marine catch size control; however, the law does not include further details for implementation.
The purpose of the law is to control the overfishing of the juvenile species, especially the mackerel, the rapidly decreasing fish species that used to be commonly found in the Gulf of Thailand. Mackerel is a cheap, accessible source of protein often served together with chilli paste in Thailand.
Whether to enforce the control or not is a debate among fishing communities. More than 80 percent of fisherfolk in Thailand are small-scale fishing operations and use traditional gears. In comparison, only 17 percent are trawlers. In a public hearing last July, most fisherfolk disagreed with the law, according to the Department of Fisheries. However, the Federation of Thai Fisherfolk Association says that the outcome of the public hearing is not representative.
Read our story about the journey of fishing communities to voice this issue here.
By Nicha Wachapanich
Photo by Peerapon Boonyakiat/HaRDstories