Thailand to implement UN/FLUX for sustainable fisheries

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By Milthon Lujan

Thailand is one of the top fish producing nations in the world, with an average maritime catch of 2.048 million tonnes per year, and the fisheries sector accounting for 1.2% and 9.9% of the national GDP and the agricultural GDP, respectively (FAO 2014). Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is high on the country’s political agenda. Therefore, setting up systematic mechanisms that allow the effective monitoring and control of fishing activities is extremely important for the country.

At the recent Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business Forum in Hangzhou in China, Thailand’s Digital Government Development Agency (DGA) reported on the country’s progress in the implementation of the Fishery Language for Universal Exchange – UN/FLUX.

According to DGA experts, “since UN/FLUX has been promoted as a global standard for data exchange in fisheries, its implementation will strongly support Thailand’s efforts” to achieving its IUU-free objective. In particular, this standard will greatly enhance the interoperability of IT systems among different organizations in the fisheries supply chain. Better fisheries-related data management will also lead to advanced tracking opportunities, which will largely contribute to transparency of fisheries value chains. The approximately 2 million people employed in the sector, of which 40% are fishermen and fish farmers (FAO 2018), may benefit from preserving future fish-stock and ensuring economic security for their families. Furthermore, UN/FLUX will help to communicate the country’s achievements in its IUU fighting efforts and impacts, across the world.

Thailand is currently at the technical feasibility study phase, focusing primarily on the domains of Licenses, Vessel, Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and Fishing Activities. These domains were prioritized due to the country’s regulations, operation requirements and technical support resources. It should be noted that, at the moment, the total number of VMS-ready licensed fishing vessels that can be monitored via VMS tracking facilities amounts to 5,645 units, which accounts for 53% of all licensed fishing vessels in the country.

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Thailand is few steps away from officially establishing UN/FLUX as a data exchange standard for the country’s fisheries domain, namely: the feasibility study, the test of data exchange, and final approval at the political level. The DGA experts estimate that data exchange could be performed in accordance with UN/FLUX by April 2019.
Looking ahead, the full implementation of UN/FLUX will require a strong multi-stakeholder partnership, and will be mutually beneficial for both government sector and fishery-related industries. In addition to helping prevent overfishing and creating barriers to the sales of illegally caught fish on the market, the standard will contribute to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development (Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14), help attain sustainable production in the fishing industry (SDG 12), enhance food security and improve nutrition (SDG 2).

The second session on the UNECE Team of Specialists on Sustainable Fisheries to promote, facilitate and support the implementation of sustainable fisheries standards on a global scale, and particularly the Fisheries Language for Universal Exchange (UN/FLUX) is to be held in at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 31 January-1 February 2019.

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Source: UNECE

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