Policy Advice: SEAT in Thailand

In the final few months of the project, SEAT’s findings and lessons learnt from the project, were presented to policy makers, stakeholders and private enterprises at meetings in Bangladesh, Thailand and Vietnam.

The meeting in Thailand was held in Bangkok, on the 25th July (2013), allowing SEAT researchers Dr. Kriengkrai Satapornvanit (Faculty of FisheriesKasetsart University) and Dr. Jason Weeks (representing CEFAS) to meet with Dr. Wimol Jantrarotai (Director General of the Royal Thai Department of Fisheries). Also present were a wide range of other stakeholders, including fisheries and feed scientists from other institutions, other government departments (Fish Trade Inspection Office) and a member of the British Embassy (Ms. Chamapan Rangaratna, Trade and Investment Manager)*.

From Left to Right: Dr. Reg Eayrs, Dr. Wendy Higman, Dr. Jason Weeks (all CEFAS), Dr. Wimol Jantrarotai (Director General, Thai DoF), Dr. Kriengkrai Satapornvanit (Kasetsart University), Dr. Suttinee Limthammahisorn (DoF).

From Left to Right: Dr. Reg Eayrs, Dr. Wendy Higman, Dr. Jason Weeks (all CEFAS), Dr. Wimol Jantrarotai (Director General, Thai DoF), Dr. Kriengkrai Satapornvanit (Kasetsart University), Dr. Suttinee Limthammahisorn (DoF).

Following on from a meeting in June, 2012 where the concept of the EAFI was first introduced, this gathering had the main objective of not only presenting the progress but also to give a briefing on policies pertinent to Thailand around issues arising from SEAT project research.

Several policy headlines relevant to Thailand were presented:

  • Thailand’s positive governance of aquaculture industry.
  • How effective communication and an overall drive towards relevant certification could be expanded within aquaculture more rapidly.
  • How improvements in disease surveillance, epidemiological determinations and control could be enhanced.
  • Food safety policy headers and recommendations.
  • Reduction of fishmeal in feeds, required change in the industry mind set and farmer perceptions which would then lead to an overall positive impact vis-à-vis criticism of Thai aquaculture, pressure on wild stocks and the expansion of seafood farming in Thailand.
  • Aquaculture product welfare. An increasing component of third party certification standards in Europe. Fish welfare will become increasingly important in maintaining Thailand’sstrong position in aquaculture exports.

In discussing these issues, Dr. Jantrarotai commented that Thailand intends to be proactive and follow the policy recommendations. There are many positive things that Thailand has done, and is doing, regarding improving the aquaculture industry and these need to be communicated internationally. It is especially important to communicate with buyers and consumers of Thai seafood products. The director concluded by commenting of his appreciation of why the fish welfare issue had been included, and acknowledged that more attention should (and will) be given to this issue in the future.

Delegates at the policy meeting

Delegates at the policy meeting

The EAFI progress presentation was a key part of the consultative process for developing this index.During it’s development, it has been crucial to gauge opinions of various stakeholders, which need to be taken into consideration. As well as policy makers a range of aquaculture standards setters/certifiers have been consulted and have been positive about the potential and the risk/framework approach. One of the most popular aspects of the EAFI has been the inclusion of ethics and the whole value chain approach which have been commented on positively by all those consulted.

The DoF also showed great interest in the EAFI process, particularly the questions and model used to analyse the data. However, Dr. Jantrarotai however did express a concern as to whether the EAFI would become a benchmark for seafood producers importing into the EU in the future. Dr. Weeks was able to answer his concern by explaining that the EAFI is a tool for buyers rather than for exporters, to help them (buyers) make a decision to know if a product is safe and has been produced ethically.

                                                               

*The meeting was also attended by Dr. Reg Eayrs and Dr. Wendy Higman (both from CEFAS), Ms. Chamapan Rangaratna (Trade and Investment Manager, British Embassy, Bangkok), and Directorate of Fisheries officials: Dr. Suttinee Limthammahisorn (Senior Fisheries Biologist), Mr. Pairat Kosutarak (Director of the Inland Feed Research Institute), Ms. Varatip Somboonyarithi (Director, Fishery Technological Development Division), Ms. Ubolratana Suntornratana (Director, Aquaculture Development and Certification Centre) and Mr. Kriengkrai Jirapitigul (Fishery Biologist, Fish Trade Inspection Office).

Photo © Loni Hensler