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Thai Catches Towards Total Collapse – Productivity Falls By 90%

Heavy fishing off Thailand’s coast, combined with little regulation has left the region’s waters severely depleted. Reported by Chinese News Station CCTV News, according to official statistics, Thai fishing boats are now catching just 18kg of fish per hour, compared to a 300kg per hour peak in the 1960’s.

Thailand is the world’s third-largest exporter of fish and fisheries products, and the world leading nation for tuna exports, with 80 percent of the region operating on a small scale. CCTV correspondent, Dusita Chumsri reported: “Some fish stocks are nearing the point of no return.”  The numbers referring to the total catch of all fish species targeted by the Thai fishing fleet.

Each day, around 13,000 small boats skim the coast of Thailand. The catch trend of tuna for the Thai fleet supports the notion that there are less and less tuna available in the waters surrounding the South East Asian country.

In 2011, Thai flagged tuna vessels caught just 38 percent of catch volumes in 2000, and only around 26 percent of recorded tuna catch in 1990, with most of the vessels targeting tongol and bonito tuna, found in the coastal regions.

Pirochana Saikliang, senior expert of Thailand Department of Fishers, said: “It affects not only the larger fishing companies. And it’s more serious for the small scale fisheries because it is very difficult for them to access marine resources.”

Romtsai, a Thai fisherman that has been in the trade since he was a child, said: “30 years ago, we caught a lot of fish. Some got up to 7,000kg. But now we are lucky to get even 500kg a day. Some days we get nothing. It’s a bad life.

Thailand almost entirely relies on foreign imports of tuna to supply its giant tuna processing industry. In 2012, the country exported 559,493 tons of canned tuna and pre-cooked loins, made viable by the large volumes of raw material shipped to its ports from the Western Pacific Ocean, and Indian Ocean, and caught by foreign purse seiners.