The Royal Thai Government has strengthened the Port-in Port-out (PIPO) Control Centers’ monitoring capacity through the setup of a mobile inspection unit “Flying Inspection Team” or FIT. It has been mandated to operate random vessels inspections in parallel with those of 31 PIPO Centers in 22 coastal provinces in order to cross-check inspections conducted by the said PIPO Centers. The FIT consists of 4 groups, each equipped with 8 inspection experts from the relevant governmental agencies, namely, the Royal Thai Navy, the Department of Fisheries, the Marine Department, the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, the Department of Employment, and the Royal Thai Police.
The FIT’s inspection procedure is in line with the PIPO Center’s inspection handbook, which includes inspections of vessel documents, fishing gear and catch on board, and seafarers working on the vessel. The FIT’s operation was done from 29 January to 7 February 2018 and resulted in the rejection of 8 fishing vessels to port out due to the inconsistency between the information found during the inspections and that previously submitted to PIPO Centers, such as crew identification number and VMS’ serial numbers. Their cases are currently ongoing. It was also found that one vessel failed to record the information in its logbook and was thus brought before the Administrative Sanction Committee, which issued a fine of 500,000 Thai Baht (approximately over 13,100 Euros). The findings of the FIT’s inspection at an early stage demonstrated that FIT’s standard is consistent with those of the PIPO Centers.
The findings of the FIT’s inspection also reflected the strengths and weaknesses of each PIPO Center, resulting in the grouping of the PIPO Centers according to their performance. This information is essential to address each group’s particular needs. Moreover, Thailand is planning to revise the number of manpower assigned for each Center, taking into account the volume of port-in port-out requests, and to organize more training sessions for the Centers’ interdisciplinary team. Additionally, the inspection handbook will be revised in order to provide clear, consistent and more effective guidance. The FIT will continue its mandate in cross-checking the PIPO Centers’ inspections, and any difference found will be analyzed in order to increase the effectiveness of such PIPO Centers.
The abovementioned procedure has been implemented with a view to strengthening the performance of the PIPO Centers in monitoring and surveillance to ensure that vessels entering and departing Thailand are legal and adhere to proper labour treatments. This will also complement efforts in promoting the traceability in the food supply chain to ensure that Thailand will be free from aquatic animals and fisheries products obtained through illegal fishing and labour mistreatment.