Thailand is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. It is a destination-side hub of exploitation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, for both sex and labor exploitation.
Fish for sale in Thailand market
The EU hit Thailand with a “yellow card” warning last April, threatening to ban all seafood exports unless the military government tackled rampant illegal fishing and labour abuses among its fleets.
A delegation from Brussels visited the kingdom last month to assess progress but did not say when it would reach a decision on the boycott, which could cost Thailand $1 billion annually.
Thailand is the world’s third largest exporter of seafood – a status that rights groups say is achieved through overfishing, and a reliance on low-paid trafficked workers from neighbouring countries, such as Myanmar and Cambodia.
It is desperate to avoid any costly sanctions on the fishing sector.
A spokesman for the Thai embassy in Brussels told EurActiv that Thailand was “committed to combat illegal fishing and to preserve the marine resources for our future generations”, pointing out that Thai authorities have now inspected some 8,398 fishing vessels operating in Thai waters, and that nearly 94% of fishing vessels have now installed a “Vessel Monitoring System.”
The Thai cabinet has also approved measures to ensure the legal minimum age for working in the industry is 18, and promised to expedite the judicial process for human trafficking cases, he said.
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Related reading: EU to decide on Thai seafood ban; EU Team Visits Thailand to Assess Fishing Industry Cleanup