A letter has been sent to EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella which urges the Commission to maintain pressure on Thailand.
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The pressure should build upon positive reforms that have recently been made to its fishing industry, to address the problems that facilitate both IUU fishing and human rights abuses.
The letter was sent by a group of international labour, environmental and human rights organisations.
Human Rights at Sea CEO, David Hammond, said, "Our charity continues to support the persistent efforts of a number of global organisations and NGOs who are focused in continuing to highlight the realities of abuses at sea both within and related to the Thai seafood sector.
"It is key that the EU Commission has access to objective reporting and independent assessments so that it can make informed decisions."
The letter asks the Committee to take human rights into account when assessing Thailand’s seafood sector.
It also says that to demonstrate sufficient progress, Thailand should implement a time-bound action plan focused on effective enforcement to ensure substantial, measurable progress toward a legal, sustainable and ethical seafood industry.
The letter notes that Thailand has made some progress on monitoring, control and surveillance of vessels within its fishing fleet since the Commission first made its yellow card designation in April 2015, but cites concerns over lax enforcement of those measures and ongoing vulnerabilities among Thailand’s migrant worker population that leaves them prone to exploitation in seafood harvesting and processing.
"It also criticises the Thai government for use of criminal defamation to prosecute those who speak out about human trafficking.
If Thailand still fails to demonstrate improved enforcement of laws to protect human rights in its seafood sector after the extension period, the groups say that the Commission should consider issuing a red card. ■