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Over the past few years, Thailand has continuously faced the problem of overfishing. Simply put, overfishing is the removal of a species of fish from a body of water at a rate greater than that the species can replenish its population naturally. This has had a direct impact on the sustainability of the marine ecosystem and the lives of local Thai fishermen.
Thai waters are one of the world's most over-fished regions. According to the London-based Environment Justice Foundation (EJF), Thai boats now catch just 14 percent of what they used to in the mid-1960s.
As Thai workers flee appalling conditions aboard the boats, catches decline, and costs rise. As a result, boat operators have resorted to using trafficked, bonded, and forced labor to fill the shortfall and man their fishing boats. Therefore, keeping up with the international demand for cheap seafood while remaining profitable has forced Thai boatmen to turn to slave labor, stay at sea for longer and go further afield than ever before.
The damage done to the marine ecosystem is also of great concern. "Producers and consumers of Thai seafood are embroiled in one of the most outrageous social and ecological crimes of the 21st century", according to the EJF executive director Steve Trent. Thailand is the third-largest seafood exporter in the world, with exports valued at $7 billion in 2019. Although this is beneficial to the Thai economy, there is a high likelihood of extinction of many fish species, particularly blue tuna, in the coming years. It can also cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable species like sea turtles, corals, and cetaceans.
The Thai government realizes the importance of the fishing industry to its economy and to has taken drastic measures to prevent the over-exploitation of fish stocks in Thailand. To increase marine life growth, Thailand has started to create an aquaculture industry, wherein there will be controlled cultivation of aquatic organisms. At the same time, cracking down on human trafficking and stopping fishing vessels from voyaging further out to the sea.
© 2022 Tushar