Migrant workers sort out fishing nets on a boat in Phangnga in 2014. (Photo: Bangkok Post)

Hanoi (VNA) – The European Commission (EC), an institution of the European Union (EU), on January 8 delisted Thailand from the group of “warned countries” as recognition of its progress in tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

In an announcement issued the same day, European Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries Karmenu Vella said: “Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing damages global fish stocks but it also hurts the people living from the sea, especially those already vulnerable to poverty. Fighting illegal fishing is therefore a priority for the EU. I am excited that today we have a new committed partner in this fight”.

Thailand is the world’s third largest seafood exporters - a status that environmentalists say is achieved though illegal overfishing and reliance on low-paid trafficked workers from neighbouring countries.

In 2015, the EC imposed a “yellow card” warning on Thailand, threatening to ban all seafood exports unless Bangkok tackled rampant illegal fishing and labour abuses among its fleets.

The Thai Government has struggled to revive the country’s slumping economy and is desperate to avoid any costly sanctions on the vital sector.

The European Union is the world’s biggest importer of fisheries products. The EC estimates the global value of illegal fishing at 10-20 billion euros (11.4 billion to 22.8 billion USD) per year.-VNA