Hets efter billiga skaldjur underhåller trafficking i Thailand

I början av mars 2015 arrangerade organisationen Environmental justice foundation en konferens om Thailands olagliga fiske, trafficking till fiskeindustrin och utfiskning av thailändska vatten.

Nedan kan ni läsa mitt tal. EJF släppte även en film "Pirates and slaves" som har tagits fram efter ett gediget arbete till havs på thailändska båtar. EU-lagstiftningen om illegalt fiske är något av det viktigaste som de gröna i parlamentet jobbat med.

" The topic for todays gathering is sensitive and touches upon many important aspects, it combines all the important aspects of sustainable development such as social, environmental and economical sustainability.

Reading about the trafficked combodians, vietnamese and burmese poor farmers who are deceived and sold into the thai-fishing industry is a gruesome and horrifying story. 

Although the IUU-regulation doesn't cover human rights violations I will elaborate on this a bit during my speech here today. As a green MEP I see the IUU-regulation  as an absolute condition to be able to properly monitor what is going in the thai fisheries sector, aswell for fleets from other countries.That is why it is so important. If Thailand doesn't comply with the international rules of how to fish legally, and their own national legislation aswell, then there is absolutely no traceability whatsoever and no chance for improvement. So the IUU is to be seen as an incentive for  proper monitoring.

To improve working conditions we have to push for the other conventions  as cited in GSP+, ILO and other relevant conventions. 

The IUU regulation  establishes a system of certification for imported fish entering the EU territory and provides penalties for vessels, including EU-flagged vessels, and countries that do not comply 

Fish caught illegally can often appear economically attractive. Since it is caught by disregarding environmental, social and other standards, the fishermen can usually sell it for less money. Wholesalers and retailers thus find it less expensive to buy, though they may not always know that it has been caught illegally. 

There is an important point to make here; we as consumers have a responsibility to ask for legally caught fish. Media has during these last months put pressure on large companies like Tesco, Carrefour and Walmart since they are the ones buying shrimps that has eaten fish-meal made from trash-fish fished by the so called ”Ghost boats” that are the ones most likely to use slave-labour.

The economic drive for cheap sea-food in the EU and U.S explains the distinct lack of enthusiasm on the part of many for the IUU-regulation. It is easy to be against illegal fishing in principle, in fact it is difficult to not be. But when opposition to illegal fishing can lead to interruptions in supply of fish to the EU market, or reduce profits, or interfere with trade with "important" trading partners of the EU, then illegal fishing becomes much more difficult to fight. That, at least, has been the experience in the EU with Regulation 1005/2008.With this in mind, the situation with trafficked labour in the Thai fisheries sector is also a part of the global campaign against IUU-fishing and the crucial role played by the EU. The Greens in parliament have been  the strongest supporters of this regulation in the EP, and we have been following the development and implementation of this regulation very closely ever since it was adopted.

However, the same forces and mostly the same arguments that were evident during the adoption of the regulation are still at work, hindering the advancement of the fight against IUU fishing. The free trade agenda that many interests hold, still appears to weigh heavily in the political balance than the need to end what a former Commissioner once called the "scourge of the oceans". 

It is this factor that probably led to the discussion on the Philippines recently.In the case with the Phillipines we asked that GSP+ status be withheld until the yellow card was withdrawn. We have also advocated the inclusion of explicit references to the IUU regulation in the free trade agreements that the EU negotiates.

I’m well aware of the difficulties that the implementation of the regulation has met, both here in the EU and abroad. Such was only to be expected for a ground-breaking piece of legislation that significantly advances the fight against IUU-fishing and explicitly names and punishes countries that fail in their responsibilities.

But though the regulation has only been in force for five years, it has had a truly remarkable effect globally. Despite the extensive investigations and verifications that the Commission conducts prior to pre-identifying a country, a total of 17 countries have been given a "yellow card". This indicates the need for such assessments to be performed and how many countries are not fulfillng their international obligations, despite several months of dialogue with the Commission.

An important characteristic of the regulation is its dynamic and flexible nature. This is demonstrated by the fact that the Commission is able to react rapidly to developments in the third country, either by recommending the full identification of the country concerned, or removing the country from the lists if they make sufficient improvements to indicate that they are reliable partners in the fight against IUU fishing. This has happened with many countries and shows how beneficial the regulation has been in persuading third countries to upgrade their fisheries control systems.

Clearly, the pressure that led these countries to alter their behaviour has been the threat of sanctions.Without the threat of trade sanctions in fish only, these improvements would not have been made in so many countries

In short, the Greens share the analysis made awhile ago by Commissioner Damanaki during a discussion in the Fisheries Committee,  that the true measure of the success of the regulation is the extent to which it leads to improvements in the behaviour and practices of the various players - be they ship-owners or captains, flag States or coastal States, importers or traders. In this sense, we consider the regulation to have been a success.

But to put this in perspective, we must always bear in mind what IUU fishing means - it is illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. So while the examples being discussed here today, about human trafficking and other human rights abuses, are truly shocking, many countries are involved, as the list of yellow and red cards issued by the EU attests. It also includes IUU fishing by EU vessels including in our own waters. Thailand is definitely not the only country to indulge in IUU fishing. Nor is it the only country where slave-like conditions exist as exposed in a recent press article on trafficked humans on fishing vessels in the UK, for instance.

Reading Thailands own trafficking in persons 2014 Country report I’m happy that the Thai administration seem to be  taking the trafficking of migrant-workers and the IUU fishing seriously. By april 2015 the new Fishery act BE 2558 will come into force. This also includes an action plan how to conquer problems in the fisheries sector and IUU. All vessels with a capacity over 30 gross tonne most have a Vessel Monitoring System and implement port-in, port out protocol monitored by port-in, port -out centers.This is good for it will mean  a more systematic approach will be possible when it comes to follow the people working at sea, both Thai and other nationalities, and hopefully contributing to limiting the possibility for exploitation.

Fishing vessels with a capacity of 30 gross tonnage are also obliged to , and are not allowed to operate, unless a vessel owner has submitted documents like : 1) vessel registration permit, 2) vessel operation permit, 3) Employment documents 4) the list of workers specifying names, nationalities, passport or id-number, duties, dates of employment etc. Those large vessels are risk venues as their long-haul operation requires a large number of workers and crews. Approx 71,132 migrant workers currently work in the fisheries sector on some 8270 vessels with a capacity over 30 gross tonnage.

Now it’s up to the Thai-administration to keep it’s own promises stated in it’s own country report , which also clearly states the need to tackle corruption among high-level bureaucrats and police-officers and to work together with neighbouring countries to better protect their own citizens: to offer good working conditions and real labour opportunities to their people. Last but not least, I would urge the Thai-administration to consider a more ecosystem-based approach to it’s fishing, because it’s also the major overfishing in Thailands waters who are fueling the trafficking situation, when boats are forced to go further and further away to find the fish that use to catch. Thank You!"