BANGKOK, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- About 3,000 fishermen and seafood vendors on Thursday staged a protest against the European Union (EU) for continually pressing Thailand over illegal fishing activity, urging the Thai government to stop doing favors to the Europeans.
The peaceful protest was organized by the Thai Fishery Association and held at the Mae Klong fish market in Samut Songkhram province, about 80 km southwest of Bangkok.
It was against the EU, which has apparently exerted pressure on the Thai government over the illegal and unregulated fishing, better known as IUU, in Thai and international waters in the last two years.
The protesters are mostly fishermen, trawler crewmembers, seafood vendors, workers at Samut Songkhram fish market and businesspersons related to fishing industry.
Thai Fishery Association president Mongkol Sukcharoenkhana charged that the sustained EU pressure had brought enormous trouble to Thailand's fishing industry as a whole despite the fact that most fish and seafoods produced by this country had been traded for domestic consumption rather than exported to EU member states.
Bilateral trade between Thailand and the EU amounted to some 43 billion U.S. dollars yearly, including the exports of Thai fresh and frozen seafood products to EU member states.
Nevertheless, Mongkol called on the Thai government to review its policy against IUU activities and put the interests of the Thai fishermen and others in fishing industry ahead of the EU demands for continued crackdowns on suspected IUU activities.
The authorities have taken measures against IUU activities by monitoring and stopping any unregistered trawlers or unlicensed skippers from going out to sea while migrant workers, hired as crewmembers aboard the fishing boats, needed to obtain work permits, the president said.
Besides, the anti-IUU measures call for all trawlers to be monitored while sailing in the sea as well as to be reported of leaving and returning to a port.
According to the fishery association chief, Thailand's fishing industry had suffered as much as 500 billion baht (about 14.7 billion U.S. dollars) in losses since the EU began to press for the IUU crackdowns two years ago.
About 3,500 Thai fishing boats have run out of crewmembers, mostly being Myanmar migrant workers, due to the EU-pressed crackdowns on IUU activities, he said.
Of a total of about 40,000 Thai fishing vessels, only some 10,600 are currently going out to sea, leaving nearly 30,000 others idle by ashore, he said.