Thousands of Thai fishermen on Thursday protested the tough fishing regulations imposed on them by the EU.
Thailand’s multi-billion-dollar fishing industry was put under the international spotlight in 2014 with reports of illegal operators causing environmental damage and enslaving workers.
In April 2015, the European Commission placed Thailand under a “yellow card” warning to make immediate improvements or face having its seafood exports to the EU banned.
The warning has not been lifted, leading to stricter law enforcements faced by Thai fishing operators and financial losses amounting to millions of dollars.
Thursday marks Thailand’s Fishery Day and the protest, where more than 3,000 Thai fishermen and business operators across the country wear black T-shirts bearing the slogan “Stop Threatening Thailand” was meant as a symbolic gesture.
“We want the EU to reconsider the harsh regulations and talk to us,’’ said Mongkhon Sukcharoenthana, Chairman of the National Fisheries Association of Thailand.
“While the EU and the Thai Government see the measures as ‘magic pills’, they are actually ‘poison’ to us. So, many fishermen have become bankrupt,” Mongkhon added.
The group deems the current fishing regulations “unfair” and “unnecessarily harsh,” with Mongkhon pointing to hefty fines of up to one million baht (30,000 dollars) or confiscation of the boat for failing to come ashore on time.
The group also denied the employment of illegal immigrants, saying no one has dared violating the law due to the risk of getting their licenses revoked.