The EU has given Thailand, the world’s third-largest seafood exporter, six months to crack down on illegal fishing or face a trade ban on its fish imports.
“The commission has put Thailand on formal notice, after identifying serious shortcoming in its fish monitoring, control and sanctioning systems,” the environment and fisheries commissioner, Karmenu Vella told a press conference in Brussels. “There are no controls whatsoever and no efforts being made whatsoever and illegal fishing is almost totally allowed.”
Unless Thailand now cleans up its fishing industry, it risks an embargo on its fish exports in October. EU vessels could also be prevented from fishing in Thai waters.
Thailand’s global fish exports were valued at €7bn (£5bn) in 2013. Last year, €642m of that catch – weighing 145,907 tonnes – was destined for European dishes, where it made up over 3% of the continent’s overall fish imports.
According to Eurostat, the UK has the largest appetite for Thai fish, consuming over €153.4m of it a year, closely followed by Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands. Much of that will have been caught by pirates.