Thailand

Background

The Thai Crab Product Group (TCPG) was formed in 2012 under the umbrella of the Thai Frozen Foods Association (TFFA).  TCPG is the industry lead for the Thai blue swimmer crab sustainability initiative.  An MSC Pre-Assessment was conducted in 2012, and since then there have been numerous consultations with the Thai Department of Fisheries and WWF on best ways to move forward.   The FIP will focus in key recruitment areas in the Gulf of Thailand, namely Chantaburi and Surat Thani.

The Thai FIP, in-part with WWF, will focus on Ban Don Bay in Surattani, which is the biggest landing site of Thailand. WWF-Thailand has solicited a 3rd party consultant to complete the MSC Pre Assessment, Scoping Document and draft FIP Action Plan, which is in line with CASS and Monterey Bay Aquarium standards for recognizable FIPs. In addition, ‘National Plan of Action on Sustainable Management of Blue Swimming Crab’ was initiated in 2015 to facilitate the FIP implementation with wider scope in national level of some activities.  The NPOA consists of 4 strategies: (a) improving information on BSC fisheries and relevant resources, (b) establishing the direction on BSC restoration, (c) controlling inputs to BSC fisheries, and (d) promoting local participation and responsible BSC fishing.

A draft FIP Action Plan has been circulated to stakeholders for preliminary comments. However, some additional tasks need to add to the current action plan in order to formulate a comprehensive one. Currently, the action plan is in the process of revising with technical support from MRAG. TOR, milestones, responsible agencies, and budget of each task will be developed as input for revision in a 5-year workplan. It is expected to be available in April 2016. At Surat Thani level, a research study proposal has been developed for the implementation. It covers stock assessment, environment impact on BSC fisheries, related ecosystem, as well as development of crab bank and technology transfer.

 

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Updates

During the FIP Managers meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, Pakawan Talawat of WWF Thailand reviewed the work-to-date of the Thai blue swimming crab FIP.

The Thai BSC FIP has four stakeholder groups: government, university, NGO’s and industry. Developing a groundwork for fisheries management, TCPG has completed scoping documents and developed an understanding for the elements of a comprehensive FIP. Also, TCPG has developed a national Plan of Action on Sustainable BSC Management, which is being overseen by a committee and working group. In May, TCPG hosted an RBF workshop to determine fishery bycatch. An MOU signed by 8 TCPG member companies prohibits the purchase of crabs smaller than 10 cm including berried female crabs. The pilot site of the Thai BSC FIP is in Surat Thani Province (Southern Thailand).

Thailand’s FIP is now under review by key stakeholder groups. December 20-21st at the Signature Hotel in Surat Thani, a consortium of fisher groups, government representatives, university personnel and TCPG members gathered to discuss blue swimming crab fishery issues and to collaborate on a resource management plan.80f23c32-59a3-4a47-b546-4f4fbdd389bb

The Crab Council Sustainability Envoy, Dr. Abdul Ghofar visited Thailand during these meetings to familiarize the stakeholder groups with the FIP concept and facilitate communication between university researchers who will be conducting stock assessment work and the fisher groups who will be supplying researchers with collection data.

TCPG has commenced a fishery stock assessment upon signing an MOU with the Department of Fishery Biology, Faculty of Fisheries, Kasetsart University. The research team is in the process of collecting all of the stock research in 5-10 years. Researchers have begun a literature review of the current status of BSC in Thailand with desk study results to be developed by March, 2017.

On December 15th at the Thai Department of Fisheries, a Technical Working Group comprised of fishery managers, NGO’s and industry representatives met to discuss elements of the FIP Action Plan that is under review.  It was a preliminary meeting leading up to larger fishery stakeholder roundtable to divulge and finalize the Thai BSC FIP Action Plan.  Key discussion topics were clarifications of MSC Principle Indicators, scoring from the initial Pre Assessment, possible actions and organizations to address them.

WWF, TCPG/TFFA, and DoF gather to discuss the FIP Action Plan at the National Level, and to prototype the plan at the provincial level in Ban Don, Surat Thani.  The Plan is benchmarked to MSC Criteria’s, and the pilot will look to get cooperation from the supply chain, DoF to establish fishery regulations, improve data collection, and establish co-management regime with access rights to local fishers.

On July 7th Thai Crab Product Group (TCPG) and WWF-Thailand, hosted their 2nd of a proposed 3 stakeholder roundtables, in Donsak, Surat Thani (Southern Thailand).  The first of which was held at the Department of Fisheries in Bangkok, and the next will be planned for Chumpon.  Chumpon and Donsak represent major landing centers where fishery improvement efforts will be focused around.

Attended were representatives from the fisher community, suppliers for Thai BSC processors from the area, Provincial and District representatives from the Department of Fisheries, WWF-Thailand and TCPG members.  The discussion centered around scoping-out and refining sustainability issues to be addressed in the FIP Action Plan.  Key to this discussion were crab rearing technology and designated areas to implement such a regime which would prescribe no take zones, encroachment of small-scale fishers from a local cockle fishery into public coastal area’s, issues around demarcation and open access of boat types harvesting BSC, stock assessments, and enforcement.

Thailand has had a long history of independent sustainability initiatives that have had to deal with gear types, fishery assessments, crab rearing, and communal co-management regimes that haven’t either continued after the particular life of project, or transitioned into a Provincial or National management frameworks.  The FIP will seek to combine all the available data and synthesize into its fishery improvement strategy.

Thai BSC fishery stakeholders from Ban Don Bay, Surat Thani were able to sit with MRAG fishery consultant, Robert Wakeford, to put the finishing touches to a draft FIP Action Plan to be implemented next year.  The discussion reviewed MSC sustainability criteria, followed by detailed dialogue on sustainability issues and next steps that include stock assessment work and roundtable discussions with a National Committee to agree on fishery specific objectives.  The draft FIP Action Plan is currently under review.

Thai FIP photo

TCPG FIP partner, WWF-Thailand is in the process of hiring a new department head of sustainability.  After the position has been filled FIP planning and budgeting will proceed.  The FIP consultant will be Dr. Robert Wakeford of MRAG.