Thailand’s Progress on Combating IUU Fishing and Labour Issues towards Fisheries Sustainability

Article Administrator 2022-02-10

1. Update on combating IUU fishing after removal of the EU IUU yellow card

After the release of the EU IUU yellow card in 2019, Thailand has shifted the work and activities on combating IUU fishing and labour issues in the fisheries sector to regular bureaucratic jobs. Of which the competent authorities in various matters will lead to implement in full scale. During the transition from Command Center on Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF) which was a task force set up to supervise operations with the main goal of removing EU IUU yellow cards, to a legal authority, there was not smooth in some activities. This is because during the transition period (2019-2020), the Department of Fisheries which is the main operating unit in particular for the MCS, set about restructuring Divisions involved in MCS. However, The Thai government has remained taking actions to address IUU fishing in various dimensions which are of legal framework and policy strategies, fishing fleet and fishery resources management, enhancement of MCS, strengthening laws and penalty enforcement, upgrading the electronic traceability system, preventing labor manipulation and proactively collaborating in international level including initiating the national policy of IUU FREE THAILAND.

Thai government still maintains the policy in combating IUU fishing for sustainable fishery resources management. In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic from 2020- 2021, Thailand continually carried out combating IUU fishing according to existing measures, guidelines complied to international standards. fishing fleet management by taking small scale fishing vessels into the registration system, searching for appropriate VMS for small scale fishing vessels, successively banning registration of commercial fishing vessel for one year at a time, no policy to allocate additional fishing days for fishermen toward the end of fishery year which is considered to implement a measure of fish allocation transfer, and allocating budgets for taking vessels out of the fisheries system. Moreover, Thailand has conducted the monitoring, control and surveillance for Thai fishing vessels operating in Thai waters and outside Thai waters by enforcing law strictly and continually, cooperating on combating IUU fishing in ASEAN region under ASEAN Roadmap on Combating IUU Fishing and mechanisms on RPOA-IUU and ASEAN Network for Combating IUU Fishing (AN-IUU) which the Department of Fisheries (DOF) served as AN-IUU center and Interactive Platform administrator. The Department of Fisheries continues to work with international organizations, including the EJF and other international organizations in the inspection, control and surveillance. The EJF has carried out multiple in-dept observations of the Thai Government initiatives aimed at tackling IUU Fishing and human trafficking in Thai fishing industry. EJF observes all stages of the MCS system in place with visits to all 30 Port in and Port out (PIPO) centers, all three Thai Maritime Enforcement Commands Centre (Thai MECC) Area commands, as well as witnessing multiple at sea patrols and inspection conducted by the Thai Navy, Marine Police DoF, and Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR).

1.1 New legal framework

As Thailand has amended its fishery legal framework to meet international standard in order to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU. Thailand has ratified several international conventions relating to IUU fishing which are UNCLOS, UNFSA (UN Fish Stocks Agreement), IUU (PSMA) (Port State Measures Agreement), FAO Global Record, Conservation and Management Measures (CMM) of Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMOs). Under the new legal framework and law of the sea, Thailand introduced new electronic systems on fishing vessel registration, issuing fishing license, monitoring and control of vessels and fishing activities, catch and crew inspection, traceability for fishery products and seriously enforcing law and penalties. Liberal fishing has been changed to controlled fishing under restricted issuance of fishing license. The system is based on Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) and catch allowance to prevent overfishing. The Thai Government has implemented necessary measures to reduce fishing efforts since 2016.

The Royal Thai Government has allocated an additional more than 110 mill USD specifically to combat IUU fishing on top of regular departmental budgets which already contained significant capital and resources allocations to combat IUU fishing as part of their day-to-day operational activity. The fund has enabled the Thai authorities to combat IUU fishing in a systematic way. The new fisheries law is a comprehensive legal framework not only on the prevention and deterrence of IUU fishing, but also on marine resource management and conservation. At present, Thailand continues to strictly enforce the Fisheries Law (Royal Ordinance on Fisheries 2015) and the relevant Marine Department laws (Royal Ordinance on Thai Vessels B.E. 2018 and the Navigation in Thai Waters Act). The implementation of administrative measures in Thailand still maintains the timeframe as stipulated by the DoF Regulations on the implementation of administrative measures. From November 2020 to October 2021, there were 459 cases of prosecution against offenders under the Royal Ordinance on Fisheries, B.E. 2558 (2015), of which 167 cases were related to Thai fishing vessels under 30 gloss tons. Of these 459 criminal cases (included foreign fishing vessels 7 cases), 132 cases were the offenders found and fines imposed and of which the fines have been paid by the offenders totally 107 cases, with total amount of 19.2 million baht.

1.2 Fishing fleet and fishery resources management system

           Thai authorities have reduced fishing capacity and ensured that Thailand developed a more sustainable fishing and fisheries sector. This also enabled Thailand to better help protect its marine resources through the Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) and the National Plan of Action on IUU (NPOA-IUU). Both Plans have been revised and updated into the second publication which were endorsed by the National Fisheries Policy Committee.

           At present, to prevent the Thai fishing vessels from engaging in IUU fishing and to support the sustainable fisheries, while successively banning registration of commercial fishing vessel for one year at a time, a part of commercial fishing vessels (> 10GT)of 10,400 vessels, the Marine Department has registered artisanal fishing vessels together with identity formulation totally of 56,087 vessels, of which 48,971 vessels have been registered and identified by marking, but there are still some unregistered fishing vessels and no identification which is in the process of legal proceedings. Nevertheless, it plans for completion of artisanal fishing vessel registration by 31 March 2022.

           The DoF has completed the 2021 Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) assessment to be used as a reference point for issuing fishing licenses for the Fishery Year 2022-2023. The assessment was divided into 3 groups of aquatic animals namely demersal, pelagic and anchovy. The results of such assessment are endorsing by National Fisheries Policy Committee in order to set the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) allocated for commercial and artisanal fishing vessels. In principle, DOF will allocate the catch for artisanal fishing vessels as first priority specified in the Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) using the average catch per unit effort by dividing the artisanal fishing vessels into 2 groups namely small artisanal fishing vessels (lower than 5 gross tons) and large artisanal fishing vessels (5 gross tons but lower than 10 gross tons) due to different fishing efficiency and also separated by different fishing gear types in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea. Nevertheless, artisanal fishing vessels are able to operate fishing all year round without restriction; the remaining catch allocation will be allocated for low efficiency commercial fishing vessels and high efficiency commercial fishing vessels respectively.

           Towards the sustainability of country fisheries, DoF is undertaking a possibility of MSY assessment for individual species for optimal exploitation of fish population in Thailand. Moreover, DOF under the cooperation with Thai fisheries processing plant and exporters, and the Seafood Taskforce in Thailand has significant progress on implementing Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) including FIP for Blue Swimming Crab FIP, Long tail tuna (Tonggol) FIP, and Trawl FIP, and purse seine FIP in pipeline for sustainable fishery resources management in Thailand.

1.3 Monitoring, Control and Surveillance System (MCS)

As the Thai Government has developed and strengthened the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance System (MCS). The system required close collaboration and integration among relevant agencies with the objectives to prevent, deter and issue legal actions against those involved in IUU fishing. The system involved port-in and port-out control, inspection at port, inspection at sea, air monitoring, inspection of labor on board and remote monitoring by the Fishery Monitoring Center (FMC) using modernized database and information technology system (IT), available 24/7 throughout all integrated inspection and control parties.

Common Risk Assessment (CRA) has completely evolved and replaced the pre-common risk assessment (Pre-CRA) for inspection of fishing vessel and activities at different mode by different inspecting agency. If it is necessary the CRA may be required to review from time to time according to the changed fishers behavior on fishing activities.

The FMC

           According to gaps found after the reorganization of the DoF’s agencies relating to fishing vessels inspection both at sea and at port, The Department of Fisheries has reviewed a working procedure for FMC to notify the relevant agencies including litigation for the officials concerned to have clear guidelines and work processes. It also set the timeline of each step for quick operation. Whenever the FMC has notified the target to the marine and the port inspection units, those units performed their duties and enforced the law accordingly. If it is unable to find evidence of wrongdoing, the unit shall report to the FMC for review and bring it to the Daily Brief Working Group for consideration

                               Moreover, to prevent the risk occurred to fishers in engaging the illegal fishing, DoF including the FMC and PIPO centers has promoted following additional measures:

1) There is constantly disseminated manual for commercial fishing operation and information to fishers on the boundaries line, prohibited fishing areas, measures and legal requirements by each PIPO Centre.

2) Set the Buffer line from the control area in the Fisheries Touch application, for example, the Buffer is defined 0.5 nautical miles from the coast line and protected areas and 3 nautical miles from the Thailand waters boundary and the neighboring waters boundary in order for warning fishermen taking cautious when navigating and fishing.

3) Gain understands and ability to adjust the vessel positioning system (GPS of fishing vessels) in accordance with designated line of FMC for the vessel owners and vessel masters in order to avoid the risk of accidental wrongdoing by fishermen due to GPS error.

4) Organize an event for vessel masters visiting the PIPO Center to gain more knowledge and understanding of rules, procedures, standard and measures.

Inspection at sea

For the inspection at sea, which is carried out by 3 agencies namely the Fisheries Patrol of the Department of Fisheries, THAIMECC and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. From 1 November 2020 to 31 October 2021, the fishing vessels inspection at sea have been conducted totally 1,856 times, of which 6,374 fishing vessels inspected and found illegal fishing 376 cases, 294 offenders. Most cases were illegal fishing gears which were confiscated and unable to arrest the offender for 241 cases, followed by 119 cases of artisanal fishing vessels lower than 10 GT (89 cases of traditional fishing gear and 30 cases of commercial fishing gear). When considering each case, it found that most cases involved in illegal fishing gear and offenders could not be arrested because while checking the fishing gear the owner was not present. The illegal fishing gear included elongated foldable trap numbering 182 cases, 12 accused persons, followed by push net and trawler fishing in coastal area.

Oversea fisheries

Regarding overseas fishing, Thailand implements control, monitoring and surveillance system using effectively technology equipped with ERS (E-logbook) or reporting catch using logbook. CCTV is installed to record continuous fishing and transshipping activities. Drum-rotation sensors are used to monitor the application of fishing gear. VMS (Vessel Monitoring Systems) and AIS (Automatic Identification System) are tools used for tracking vessel locations while Hatch Sensors are used for monitoring the occupation of fish holds in the vessel. An application has been developed for reporting by on-board observer. These devices effectively control and monitor the fishing activities of oversea fishing vessels and transhipping activities of carrier vessels at sea. Additionally, to prevent illegal fishing, transferring of catch and labour onboard, an observer on board the fishing vessel is required to monitor within the vessel inspection of port in -port out control and landing inspection.

Currently, there are 4 Thai oversea fishing vessels permitted to fish in the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) area and 5 oversea transshipment vessels permitted to transship at the Maldives port. In 2020, the DoF has revised the notifications on fishing operation of Thai fishing vessels and Thai transshipment vessels in SIOFA area in compliance with the current conservation and management measures of SIOFA, and educated the oversea fishers to follow the notification and the SIOFA CMMs strictly. Despite the COVID 19 pandemic situation, Thailand still places importance to control, monitor and surveillance of Thai oversea fishing fleets fishing in SIOFA area by inspecting the readiness of electronic reporting and monitoring systems (ERS and EM) by means of remote control.  The system must be fully functioned at all time before the vessels departure including observers on board. Although some Contracting Parties requested SIOFA for suspension of observers on board in the event of the COVID-19 outbreak due to travel restriction of the observers on board, Thailand still deployed observers on board for all vessel trips in order to ensure that the Thai oversea fishing fleet follow SIOFA’s measures strictly and collect all scientific data. In addition to the above-mentioned control and monitoring measures and observer deployment on oversea fishing vessels. In case there is a surveillance process that Thailand agencies cannot handle, OceanMind and IJM are requested to assist in further monitoring, such as the use of satellite imagery, particularly when loss of VMS signal.

Performance on Port State Measures (PSM)

                      The DoF remains to exercise PSM stringently to the foreign vessel enter to Thai port for fish offloading. Last year there were more than 8,000 trips of foreign vessels entering port were inspected according to port state measures, of which 97% were fishing vessels of neighboring countries. The volume of imported aquatic animals, however, was totally 783,000 tons, and about 66% imported by non- neighboring countries and main imported species was tuna as the raw material for processing in Thai establishments for export. Last year the DoF denied the request Thai port entry for repairing of a vessel namely PROGRESSO, because it was on the IOTC IUU vessel list.

                      To monitor the importation of aquatic animals into Thai ports under the port state measures, OceanMind has worked with the DoF PSM team to help verify information on transshipment vessels entering port including catching vessel to prevent the importation of fish derived from IUU fishing.  The DoF has agreed with OceanMind to develop a PSM tool program so that the DoF PSM team can inspect foreign vessels enter Thai port by ourself when cooperation with OceanMind has terminated. The PSM tool system is still in development by OceanMind, which is expected to be completed in June 2022. However, OceanMind has provided capacity building on the job training to strengthen DoF PSM staff on PSM inspection and evaluation.

Moreover, DoF continues enhancement and strengthening on PSM inspection for its PSM officers as follows:

                      (1) The Department of Fisheries in cooperation with NOAA and USAID, organized an online workshop to train inspectors for port state measures between 14-19 June 2021 and 2-6 August 2021, under the cooperation between the DoF and NOAA, the science agency under the USAID. This training course primarily aimed to support Thailand in its fighting against IUU fishing and enhance PSMA implementation capacity by focusing on the implementation of PSMA measures, such as understanding the roles and responsibilities of PSMA inspectors, monitor IUU fishing activities, and inspection of fishing vessels and support vessels flying foreign flags entering the Thai port in compliance with the PSMA. Moreover, the workshop also served as a forum for discussion, exchange information and experience between NOAA experts and Thai officials as well.

                      (2) The DoF in collaboration with the FAO and NOAA, organized online training for officials of ASEAN countries for the implementation of port state measures from 26-29 October 2021. This training aimed to support the implementation of PSM in Southeast Asian countries through the Regional Cooperation Mechanism of SEAFDEC (SEAFDEC Training Department, TD) under the project named “Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Strengthening National Capacities to Eliminate IUU fishing in Southeast Asian” to support and assist ASEAN Member States in implementing the PSM through an understanding of the requirements contained in the PSMA, strengthen capacity through participation at all levels and strengthen regional cooperation in combating IUU fishing.

Port in and Port out inspection

    During the past three years (2019-2021), there were averaged 10,500 commercial fishing vessels were granted fishing licenses. Number of fishing vessel trips notified port in-port out each year was fluctuated according to the fishing season, and many vessels could not do fishing at the end of the fishing year because their fishing days were used up before the end of the fishing year. The percentage of vessel target for inspection ranged from 20-21% of all port in-port out notification based on common risk assessment management. Additionally, fishing vessel inspections by the PIPO center was averaged about 90-100% of the total inspection target. (Figure 1)

From 1 November 2020 to 31 October 2021, there were 402,125 trips of port in-port out notification. 30 PIPO centers inspected fishing vessels 83,363 times, representing 20.73% of the total number of ports in-port out notification. The results of the inspection of fishing vessels compared with the vessel inspection by PIPO notified targets, the efficiency is stable every month, with the efficiency of fishing vessel inspection in the range of 99.62% - 99.99%, representing an average of 99.83%. Therefore, it can be assumed that after the restructuring of PIPO Center, the officers are still able to perform their duties at the same efficiency.

    The Department of Fisheries (DoF) of Thailand in collaboration with EJF conducted a joint inspection and notified the in charge DoF agencies of any suspicious target found in the area through the coordinating officer of FMC and EJF. Occasionally, EJF and DoF observe together during PIPO’s inspection of port-in and port-out notifications, catch landing, including labour inspection of patrol vessels at the port and sea. EJF has assessed Thailand’s patrol unit effectiveness and has periodically arranged the report on Thailand’s progress in combating IUU, forced labour, and human trafficking. In addition, EJF and DoF also work closely to carry out the project on gathering garbage (waste) onboard fishing vessels and bringing it back to shore, a total of 43 offenses were found (19 cases were infringements under the Royal Ordinance on Fisheries, 2015 and 24 cases under Ministerial Regulation on Labor Protection in Marine Fisheries, 2014) and 12 Orders issued by the labor inspectors under Labor Protection Act. DoF in cooperation with OceanMind, is conducting a training course on "Investigation Mind MCS and Enforcement training" for 27 operators of PIPO and FMC by means of self-learning via platform Moodle between 15 October 2021 and 24 April 2022.      

                                  Owing to the epidemic situation of the second and third waves of COVID-19 in Thailand since the end of 2020 and throughout 2021, it affected the monitoring operations of the PIPO center during that period until December 2021, which the government by the Ministry of Public Health has imposed various strict control measures including control the travel and movement of people. Likewise, the governors of various provinces have restricted travel, entry and exit of various areas, therefore, PIPO centers have also established guidelines for inspecting fishing vessels under the COVID-19 epidemic situation and for each PIPO center to apply and adjust accordingly to the situation of each province. PIPO Center’s guidelines for vessel inspections under the COVID-19 pandemic are as follows:

1. Inspection of fishing vessel by the multidisciplinary team according to PIPO manual

2. Reduce the tasks of inspection team but maintain regular inspection and the interview of workers on fishing vessel by the Department of Labor Protection and Welfare will be conducted via teleconference.

3. Long-distance video surveillance by the vessel owner or an authorized representative in accordance with official guidelines for remote video monitoring.

4. Inspect fishing vessels at port through the LINE application by the vessel owner or an authorized representative in accordance with official procedures by specifying the date, time and location through the LINE application.

                      Due to the spread of COVID-19 situation in late 2020 has improved, the fishing vessel inspection at port was conducted by a multi-disciplinary team according to the PIPO Manual as usual. Later at the beginning of the year 2021, a new wave of COVID-19 was found, so all PIPO centers were notified to follow the PIPO Center's Vessel Inspection Guidelines under the COVID-19 Pandemic Situation from January 2021 onwards, and in November 2021, the guidelines in items 1-3 mentioned above were applied only in the most strictly COVID-19 controlled areas. In other areas, fishing vessel inspection at port shall be conducted by a multi-disciplinary team according to the PIPO Manual as usual.

1.4 Catch Certification and Traceability System for Exported Fish and Fisheries Product

                       Thailand has established a comprehensive traceability system covering whole supply chain as well as modes of transportation i.e., importation by air, container, and truck, under the risk-based inspection and management to prevent the entry of IUU fish. An electronic traceability system covering the value chain for Thai flagged vessels was fully implemented in September 2017. The latest additional features allowing for more automatic cross-checks in the Thai Flagged Catch Certification system (TFCC) have been in place since August 2018. Today, DoF has already implemented the IT system tracing imported fish as well as the PSM linked and Processing Statement System (PPS) which consists of 2 systems, namely (1) the electronic Port State Measures (PSM) system to track fish from pre-port entry to transport and (2) the Processing Statement Endorsement System (PSE) to track each fish batch from processing plant until export to the EU market as requirements. The Thai Flagged Catch Certification Scheme and the Import Control Scheme ensure complete product traceability at each and every stage of production – from catch landing to offloading, processing, and ultimately export. This complete electronic traceability system can ensure no illegal fish enters the supply chain of fish and fishery products for export.

Figure 1 Fishing vessel inspection by PIPO centre compared with the notified vessel target 2019-2021

Thailand has built a new future for its fisheries and seafood industry through a national root and branch reform program. Thai fisheries products are now safer, more legal, sustainable, environmentally and socially friendly and IUU-Free. Our products can be traced through a new enhanced e-traceability system along supply chain – we trace from sea to plate. Apart of sanitation control from farms to processing plants and exports, all fishery products are proved and certified non-IUU products by the Department of Fisheries for exportation. The entry of IUU fish is stringent prevented under the IUU - Free Policy.

Moreover, the existing electronic traceability of Thai Flagged Catch Certification system (TFCC) and the Fishing Info (database) Network can cover the traceability of trash fish caught by Thai flagged vessels to ensure the caught trash fish supplied to the fish meal plants are not derived from IUU fishing. The industry of the fish meal production in Thailand are supplied by 2 groups of raw material namely trash fish (38%), and by products from fish processing (62%) for aquatic animals feed production. The program of certification of fish meal and fish meal products has been developed and launched since 2014 with the cooperation of Department of Fisheries, Thai Fishmeal Producers Associations, Thai Feed Mill Association, Bangkok Produce Merchandising Public Co., Ltd., and Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Co., Ltd. This is a joint policy between the Thai government and private sector to develop a system for the production of fishery products of Thailand aiming particularly to improve the trawl fisheries operating in Thai waters to align with the IFFO RS standard and sign in the IFFO Improver Program (IP) for further sustainability of the fishmeal producer in Thailand. Although this is a pilot program and voluntary, currently there are 43 fishmeal plants joining the program. In the near future, the system of the certification of the fish meal and fish meal products will be regulated and becoming mandatory by law.

           Currently, as the exporter of fish and fishery products to the EU market, the Thai DoF is cooperating with the EU DG MARE to joining the use of the EU IT system CATCH, that the main objective is to ensure a smooth transition from the current paper-based catch certificate to EU IT system.

1.5 International cooperation and enhancement of fighting IUU fishing to the ASEAN

The Thai government realized the importance of international collaboration including flag state, port state, coastal state and relevant RFMOs on information exchanges with regards to fishing activities of suspicious fishing vessels or IUU vessels. Thailand has extended the collaboration on combating IUU fishing to ASEAN member countries by initiating the establishment of ASEAN Network for Combating IUU Fishing or AN-IUU. The AN-IUU aims to support the cooperation among ASEAN Member States in fighting against and prosecuting the IUU fishing vessels in the region under ASEAN Roadmap on Combating IUU Fishing and RPOA-IUU mechanisms. The DOF serves as AN-IUU centre and Interactive Platform administrator for information sharing of the IUU activities in the region.

2. Progress on the resolution concerning human trafficking and forced labor in fishery industry

           Combating human trafficking remains a national agenda of Thailand. Even Thailand was ranked in the tier 2 watch list in the TIP report 2021, the Royal Thai Government continued its strong efforts in comprehensively addressing human trafficking by pursuing zero-tolerance policy in prosecuting the human trafficking offenders; ensuring the safety and protection of victims of trafficking, implementing preventive measures to protect various vulnerable groups from human trafficking. Thailand has been focusing on the prevention and eradication of illegal labor in seafood and fishery industries. We have revised laws and policies related to the protection of labor rights and the immigration management, established the monitoring system to ensure the wellness and work performance of the workers in seafood and fishery industries, and adapted three Ps measures (Prosecution, Protection, and Prevention) for solving labor issues occurring within the country. Furthermore, Thailand has prosecuted a person, who committed forced labors, and monitored this crime in every segment of the fishery supply chain; from ports, rafts to sea. It forms Inter – Agency Taskforce among government agencies and private sectors to work effectively. Foreign labors in Thailand, approximately 110,000 people, have been registered and legally working in the country since 2018. Todays, 100% of the migrant workers employed in the fishing and seafood sectors have entered Thailand through legal channels or were approved under the proof of nationality measures. 

           Thailand was the 14th of the member states of ILO and the first country in Asia which ratified ILO Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 No. 188 or C188 on January 2019 and entered int force in January 2020. At present, the royal Thai government enacted the Labor Protection in Fisheries Act 2019 in consistency with C188 as well as increasing the efficiency of labor protection and forced labor prevention in fisheries. Thailand also has ratified the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention (P29).

Thailand has built up the coordination with other countries such as the European Union countries to prevent human trafficking continuously, partnered with Cambodian government establishing the transit center for human trafficking victims in Poipet, Cambodia to rehabilitate victims before going back to society, and has worked with ILO by creating USDOL and ATLAS projects. 

           Thailand has a significant progress on the fighting human trafficking and other forms of forced labor, such as (1) increasing identification of victims of human trafficking, (2) having prosecuted and imposing severe punishment to a number of offenders and government officials involved in human trafficking (3) developing a manual with NGOs to create standards for training / policy of fighting human trafficking, and (4) inspecting labors in collaboration with multidisciplinary teams which helps to sort out more victims from labor trafficking.

Three additional laws and regulations that would enhance the efficacy in preventing and suppressing human trafficking have been enacted or revised in 2019 namely Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (No.33& 34) B.E. 2562 (2019) to prevent spurious retributive charges by employers against workers and their rights defenders; Emergency Decree Amending the Anti-Human Trafficking Act B.E.2551 (2008) B.E.2562(2019) to support Thailand’s ratification of ILO Convention No. 29 on Force labour; and the Labour Protection in Fisheries Act on Work in Fishing. In addition, progress continued to be made in the consideration of the draft Labour Relations Act that would allow migrant workers to join as committee members of labour unions, in line with International Standard of the ILO C. 98 – Right to organise and collective bargaining convention, 1949, the cabinet approved the draft Labour Relations Act B.E…. Essential amendments include migrant workers’ right to serve as committee members at labour unions. The draft is still under the process of consideration by the council State, and is part of the Government’s efforts towards ratifying ILO C 98.

Greater collaboration among government agencies, private sectors, and NGOs as well as enhanced capacity of law enforcement officers led to increased efficiency in the prosecution process of trafficking cases at all steps. Severe sentences were handed down to the offenders with 36.6 percent of them punished to imprisonment of 10 years or more, generating greater deterrence effect. Under the Port in-Port out control centre (PIPO), crews on board are inspected through the capacity of the multidisciplinary team. The Department of Fisheries has established the Marine Fisheries Protection and Suppression Centre to coordinate inspection of vessels at sea with provincial officers of related agencies.