PHUKET: An island official is attributing local fishermen’s unwillingness to go offshore and a resulting spike in seafood prices to monsoon-season sea conditions, rather than a reaction to recent, strict regulation changes to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing practices.
“This is not purely a protest. I have spoken to a lot of fishermen, and they have told me that they are not going out because of the monsoon season,” said Phuket’s Office of Commercial Affairs Chief Prakong Rukwong.
Contrary to Mr Prakong’s explanation for fishermen not leaving Phuket’s ports, Somyos Wongbunyakul, president of the Phuket Fishing Association, told the Phuket Gazette last week that commercial Phuket fishing boats had vowed to remain ashore rather than be netted by officials for IUU practices (story here).
“We requested that the government relax the strict measures being enforced on us. However, they refused,” said Mr Somyos.
“The new regulations began on July 1 – no excuses. We have no choice but to stay ashore.”
The move by fishermen in Phuket and 22 other provinces in Thailand follows the European Union issuing Thailand a ‘yellow card’ in April and threatening to boycott fish exported from the Kingdom.
Thailand was given six months to implement a tailor-made action plan to tackle the issue.
Mr Prakong acknowledged that fishermen were scrambling to get the necessary paperwork filed to meet the new requirements, but said that it would not cause any issues for the island.
“Fishermen will try to get all legal paperwork done as soon as possible, before setting out to sea. However, I do not think this will cause a problem in Phuket,” he said.
Mr Prakong said island authorities would set out today for a weekly seafood price check, and that he would be able to determine whether or not there had been any disconcerting changes.
“We think prices will increase again this week because of the monsoon sea conditions,” Mr Prakong explained.
“However, we will compare this year’s prices to last year’s. If prices have risen too high, we will co-ordinate with relevant departments to solve the issue.
“If there is a problem with the prices, it will improve after the monsoon season is over.”
— Thanaphon Phromthong
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