NEW FISHERIES IMPROVEMENT PROJECT IN THE GULF OF THAILAND

Establishing a Fishery Improvement Project

In response to concerns raised by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) regarding the sustainability of the Thai fishmeal industry, a Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) has been initiated in the Gulf of Thailand. This project aims to address environmental and social issues within the industry, ultimately leading to the fishery’s application to join the MarinTrust Improver Programme (formerly IFFO RS).

Collaboration for Sustainability

Approximately seven years ago, the rapidly growing shrimp industry recognized the need to address sustainability concerns related to its feed production. In order to work towards achieving acceptance onto a certification program, the industry, represented by eight private sector Thai fisheries organizations, formed the Thai Sustainable Fisheries Round Table.

This collaborative effort focused on prioritizing social aspects within the supply chain, including human rights and labor issues such as forced labor and worker voice. Additionally, the project aimed to address fisheries management, governance, environmental responsibility, and transparent traceability throughout the supply chain.

The participation of various stakeholders, including fishermen, processors, governmental departments, experts, and representatives from the entire supply chain, was crucial to the project’s success.

Adoption of International Standards

In October 2016, the Thai Sustainable Fisheries Round Table announced its cooperation with the Thai government to adopt international fishing standards in the Gulf of Thailand.

This milestone marked a significant step towards establishing a sustainable fishery in the region, with a particular focus on combating overfishing and illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) activities.

The formal establishment of the FIP was a result of this collaboration, signifying the commitment of the industry and government to address these critical issues.

Applying MarinTrust Criteria

The Gulf of Thailand FIP stands out as the first project worldwide to utilize the newly developed MarinTrust multispecies fisheries criteria. Dr. Rawee Viriyatum, the initial FIP coordinator for the Gulf of Thailand, emphasizes the suitability of the MarinTrust program for managing marine fisheries resources in Thailand. The Gulf of Thailand is home to a diverse range of fish species, making it an ideal testing ground for the assessment process.

Industry Progress and Commitment

Vorapong Iamtrakul, General Manager for Sustainable Standard for Feed Raw Material Office at CP Foods, acknowledges the significant progress made by the industry in recent years to demonstrate real improvements within Thai fisheries. The FIP, along with its commitment to the MarinTrust process, is expected to continue driving positive change and further enhance sustainability within the sector.

In conclusion, the implementation of the Fisheries Improvement Project in the Gulf of Thailand highlights the industry’s efforts to address environmental and social concerns associated with the Thai fishmeal industry. Through collaboration and a focus on sustainability, the project aims to create a long-term sustainable fishery, tackle issues related to overfishing and IUU activities, and contribute to the responsible management of marine fisheries resources.

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