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Thai fishing fleet moving to Indian ocean to avoid regulation, says Greenpeace

Staff Writer | December 30, 2016
A 12-month investigation by Greenpeace Southeast Asia has found that Thailand’s overseas fishing fleets are intentionally shifting to remote waters in order to avoid fishing regulations.
Thai fishing fleet
Fish   A 12-month investigation by Greenpeace Southeast Asia
The investigation started seven months after the Associated Press released its expose on shocking human rights abuses on Thailand’s notorious fishing industry, and demonstrates a very clear case for banning transshipment at sea.

“The Thai government has tried to clamp down on human rights violations in the fishing industry but these Thai fleets remain as ruthless as ever,” said Anchalee Pipattanawattanakul, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Between 2014 and 2016 Greenpeace Southeast Asia tracked Thailand’s rogue overseas fishing vessels and found that, after fishing restrictions were imposed by the governments of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea in August 2015, as many as 76 Thai flagged vessels shifted their operations to the environmentally fragile Saya de Malha Bank in the Indian Ocean, more than 7,000km away from Samut Sakhon, Thailand’s seafood epicentre.

Maintaining fishing fleets in the distant Saya de Malha Bank requires routine journeys by reefer vessels of over 7,000 km, making transshipment at sea central to the Thai business model.

This model allows the fishing vessels to remain at sea and out of reach of authorities, where they can operate outside the law. The reefers deliver supplies and sometimes trafficked workers, and pick up fish, with some shipments reported to include up to a 50% bycatch of sharks.

The Turn the Tide report also found that the negligent use of trafficked, abused and underpaid local and foreign workers can lead to horrific outcomes such as the outbreak of beriberi disease.

An official investigation into six beriberi fatalities concluded that the men had died of heart failure caused by poor nutrition, overwork, and long periods at sea without returning to port, a situation that was enabled by transshipment at sea [5]/[6].

Furthermore, of the 15 trafficked survivors interviewed by Greenpeace Southeast Asia, almost half experienced physical violence on the vessels. One of the main reasons for beatings was illness, especially when there was insufficient food on-board and exhausted crew members would try to sneak off to rest.