Greenpeace join fishers’ campaign to save Thailand’s mackerel

Greenpeace has joined a campaign to save Thailand’s mackerel from extinction.

The Canadian-based independent campaigning group reported that Thai mackerel today is not as abundant and cheap as it was before because of years of unregulated overfishing. As a consequence, the fish sold in the markets are getting smaller, most of it is imported from other countries, and many believe it has lost its taste.

Greenpeace joined fishers from 23 coastal provinces to raise awareness of Thailand’s dwindling mackerel, and highlight overfishing, catching, selling, and consuming of juvenile fish.

They have created nursery facilities for marine animals in their communities and through social media let the public know about the crisis while at the same time lobbying supermarkets to stop selling juvenile fish.

Piya Thedyam, President of the Artisanal Fishermen Network of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, acknowledged more and more juvenile fish are being caught.

“This impacts small-scale fishers as well as consumers across the country. Seafood will be more expensive. Our campaign is to ensure food security in the future.”

Greenpeace join fishers' campaign to save Thailand's mackerel | News by Thaiger

The bridge banner says: “Stop catch, stop buying, stop selling juvenile fishes.” All pictures courtesy of © Chanklang Kanthong / Greenpeace

Piya made known that their campaign has raised awareness among consumers and the fishing community but the government has failed to engage or try to regulate the fishing of juvenile fish.

Section 57 in Thailand’s Fisheries Act states that “no person shall catch aquatic animals or take aquatic animals of a size that is smaller than that prescribed by the minister on board a fishing vessel.”

The campaigners insist this has never been effectively implemented.

Fishers from 23 coastal provinces, therefore, gathered to organize a voyage called “Reclaim Mackerel Chili Paste” – a famous sauce made of mackerel and Thai herbs. “Reclaim Mackerel Chili Paste” thus portrays the activists’ will to preserve culture, food security, and the natural resources of the country.

Local fishing boats sailed more than 1,000 kilometres from the Deep South, in the Pattani province, to Parliament in Bangkok to call for the government to implement Section 57 and announce regulations that would fix the issue.

One of the activist leaders, Wichoksak Ronnarongpairee, revealed he took part in the protest because they did not want seafood to become a “luxury food” only accessed by the rich.

“Seafood has high nutrition, but it is no longer easy to buy these days. It is expensive, and out of reach for poor people. They can only eat seafood on important occasions. The government must realize this and come up with regulations to stop the crisis. We can restore fishes to the ocean.”

Protest images and video footage of small fishing boats against the backdrop of Parliament went viral and appear to have raised awareness of the seafood crisis across the country.

The government have promised they would take the issue seriously but nothing has been done yet.

The activists made known the government has 60 days to come up with a programme or solution. If they don’t another protest with kick off.

Greenpeace join fishers' campaign to save Thailand's mackerel | News by Thaiger

A pile of juvenile mackerel fish.

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.