Every two months, FFA publishes its Trade and Industry news, a bulletin prepared for the FFA Fisheries Development Division by Dr Liam Campling , Dr Elizabeth Havice, and Mike McCoy, all Consultants Fisheries Trade and Market Intelligence Analysts and they are at the top of their game. You should download it if you have any interest in the tuna world.
I get asked about Thailand yellow card a lot, so in this post I would quote one of their articles “Thailand awaits verdict from EU on red card for IUU fishing”, as it resumes (in a 1000 times better English than my one!) what is the rather unique situation of Thailand… that even if it gets a red card, the EU cant do nothing under the present system to stop the tuna trade into their market (even if Ecuador would love for them to do that!)
On 18-22 January 2016, EU delegates conducted a final inspection before DG MARE delivers a verdict on whether Thailand’s yellow card warning received in April 2015 for shortcomings in implementation of the EU-IUU Fishing Regulation would be lifted. If the inspectors are not satisfied that the Thai Government has adequately addressed these shortcomings, a red card will instead be issued, resulting in an import ban into EU markets of fisheries products sourced from Thai fishing fleets.
The Thai Government has reportedly been working hard to tighten measures against IUU fishing, including the adoption of a revised Fisheries Act and extensive supporting legislation, significantly increased vessel and factory inspections, closure of factories in violation of regulations, improved vessel licensing and monitoring systems and enhanced on-board observer coverage. While outside the purview of the IUU Fishing Regulation, extensive investigations into human trafficking cases are also being conducted.
While issues identified by the EU relate more so to Thailand’s shrimp and other fishing industries, rather than tuna (since Thailand does not have a sizeable domestic tuna fishing fleet), the Department of Fisheries (DOF) has implemented a number of measures in line with the EU’s requirements under the IUU Fishing Regulation which impact Thai tuna packers and traders.
DOF has significantly increased the number of fisheries inspectors which are now on-site at wharves and processing plants to monitor every single tuna delivery into Thailand, via either carrier or containers. Processing plants have been warned that they will be fined for misreported species and/or volumes in commercial documentation for imported raw material.
In February, the Thai Department of Fisheries notified WCPFC of six vessels listed on their IUU register. DOF has also advised Thai processors and tuna traders that EU catch certificates must be transmitted to them no later than 30 days after imported raw material has been delivered to processors. While not explicitly related to the IUU Fishing Regulation, DOF will also be closely monitoring whether carriers delivering fish to Thailand for EU production have EU sanitary numbers.
Although the Thai Government is confident a red card will be avoided, if this does not end up being the case it will be interesting to see how tuna imports from Thailand are handled under a market sanction, since the IUU Regulation is a flag state measure. This means that for the purposes of imported foreign-caught raw materials, Thailand is considered a market state rather than flag state and the regulation is not explicit about market state responsibilities in terms of addressing IUU fishing (besides the completion of an annex to EU catch certificates regarding processing).
EU market sanctions should only apply to products processed from catches sourced from Thai fishing vessels, not products manufactured from imported tuna from foreign flagged vessels, provided the flag state of the fishing vessels has not received a red card under the IUU Regulation.
Nicely explained the quirkiness of all this. The biggest tuna canner in the world does not catches Tuna hence a red card will in principle not affect the tuna flow to the EU.
I know from good sources that if a tuna consignment arrived to a Thai cannery without a EU Catch Certificate (CC), one was made on the spot by cannery staff. And as there is no e-registry of CC validated by flag state or received by the EU member countries, and is all photocopy based, chances to stop the trade of IUU fish are almost nil.
Furthermore, unless the Thai DOF creates its own registry that accounts for all the individual CC numbers, as well as species and volumes received from all the countries notified (listed) under the EU IUU reg, and on top of that has a system to cross check the authenticity of CC with the validating flag state, I don't see how can they really tackle that mammoth task.