The European Union warned on Tuesday that it will ban seafood from Thailand unless “a corrective tailor-made action plan” was implemented within six months to clean up its fishing industry.
Thailand is the world’s third-biggest fisheries exporter, behind only China and Norway. And 15% of its fisheries exports head to the EU.
Thailand’s government said it is “confident” it can address concerns over illegal fishing that could result in a trade ban from the European Union.
About 15% of Thailand’s seafood exports are destined for the EU. Last year, Thailand shipped 145,907 tonnes of fish products worth nearly $700m to EU countries.
Thailand is a major exporter of seafood, with yearly revenues of almost 5 billion euros ($5.4 billion), and an EU ban would seriously affect the industry. Annual exports to the EU are estimated to be worth between 575 million and 730 million euros.
Thailand’s fishing industry has come under scrutiny after investigations uncovered the use of human trafficking, forced labor and ill-treatment.
It is thought that more than 300,000 people are employed in Thailand’s fishing sector. However, many of the workers are illegal migrants from neighboring countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia.