Fishing in ThailandA fishery improvement project (FIP) in the Gulf of Thailand is progressing well. Photo: MarinTrust

The need to address environmental and social issues in the Thai fishmeal industry has led to a well-subscribed fishery improvement project (FIP) in the Gulf of Thailand that is the first in the world to apply to the MarinTrust (formerly IFFO RS) multispecies fisheries criteria.

Seven years ago, the fast-developing shrimp industry decided to answer the concerns of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) about the sustainability of its feed by working towards eventual acceptance onto a certification programme. This could be achieved by setting up a fishery improvement project (FIP), which was agreed by the eight private sector Thai fisheries organisations. They got together as the Thai Sustainable Fisheries Round Table.

In October 2016, the Thai Sustainable Fisheries Round Table was finally able to announce a cooperation with the Thai government to adopt international fishing standards in the Gulf of Thailand. This paved the way towards creating a long-term sustainable fishery, taking into account the ongoing issues with overfishing, and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) activities. The announcement marked the formal establishment of the FIP.

MarinTrust’s multispecies criteria was launched in November 2018, to be tested during the next three years with relevant fisheries such as mixed trawl fisheries in SE Asia. During this period, the pilot is working as  part of the MarinTrust Improver Programme.

“The MarinTrust programme is the most suitable for marine fisheries resource management in Thailand, as it is developing a method to address complex multi-species fisheries. The Gulf of Thailand is home to a multitude of different species of fish, so the assessment is a good test case,said Dr Rawee Viriyatum, the initial FIP coordinator for the Gulf of Thailand.

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