1. Profile
    1. Basic legislation
    2. Legal definition
    3. Guidelines and codes of conduct
    4. International arrangements
  2. Planning
    1. Authorization system
    2. Access to land and water
    3. EIA
  3. Operation
    1. Water and wastewater
    2. Fish movement
    3. Disease control
    4. Drugs
    5. Feed
  4. Food safety
    1. Miscellaneous
      1. References
        1. Legislation
        2. Related resources
      2. Related links
        Basic legislation
        The newly enacted Royal Ordinance on Fisheries of 2015 (the Royal Ordinance) establishes “National Fisheries Committee” (the Committee) with the power and duty to develop fisheries policies. One of the policies the Committee is vested to determine is on the country’s aquaculture development.

        National Aquaculture Development Policies (NAqDP) is a policy document outlining the contributions of the aquaculture sector in carrying out National Economic and Social Development Plan (NESDP) and National Agricultural Development Plan (NADP). Specific strategies for lucrative species such as shrimp and tilapia may also be developed.

        NESDP and NADP 2017 – 2021 were adopted in late 2016. Since then, the Committee has established an ad-hoc committee to devise NAqDP which remains under the consultation and drafting process.

        At the provincial level, fisheries policies and plans are developed by Provincial Fisheries Committees (PFC). PFC are authorized to designate aquatic species sanctuary, prescribe requirements for fishing gears, fishing methods, bycatch as well as other conditions for fishing operations in their respective provinces.

        The Royal Ordinance on Fisheries of 2015 provides for the overarching legislative framework governing management of aquatic resources in Thailand. It also aims to ensure legal working conditions and welfare of workers in all areas of the fisheries sector. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MAC) is charged with the responsibility to determine matters for the execution of this Royal Ordinance in subsequent Ministerial Regulations.

        Department of Fisheries (DOF) has the principal mission of implementing laws and regulations regarding fisheries, exploitation rights, fishing port, wildlife conservation and protection, as well as feed, veterinary drug, disease control of commercial aquatic animals and other regulations relating to fisheries and aquaculture operations.

        The Royal Ordinance is further implemented by Provincial and District Fisheries Officers. Among others, they are tasked with ensuring that aquaculture operation in their localities is in compliance with relevant regulations and guidelines. This is done in collaboration with local authorities and municipalities.
        Legal definition
        According to Section 4 of Royal Ordinance, “Aquaculture” means the culture of aquatic animals or aquatic animal species breeding by means of natural methods, artificial insemination methods or by any other method on an aquaculture ground in any stage of the life cycle of any such aquatic animal.
        Guidelines and codes of conduct
        The Agricultural Standard Act of 2008 empowers MAC to establish standards for agricultural products upon the submission of Agricultural Standards Committee. National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (the Bureau) is the main implementing agency for this Act.

        Standards can be either voluntary or mandatory. They can also focus on any aspect ranging from characteristics of agricultural commodity (quality, safety, sanitary or phytosanitary issues etc.), production methods and procedures, packaging and labelling, to inspection, assessment, and analysis. Certificate for both type of standards can be granted by the Bureau or licensed conformity assessment service providers (certification bodies) upon compliance inspection.

        Once MAC issued a mandatory standard in Ministerial Regulation for any agricultural commodity, all producer, exporter or importer of the commodity must obtain a license from the Bureau. This license is 3-year renewable and non-transferable. As of early 2017, there is only one mandatory standard in relation to the aquaculture sector, namely the standard on HATCHERY OF DISEASE FREE PACIFIC WHITE SHRIMP: TAS 7432-2015.

        Since its enactment, Good Aquaculture Standards (GAqP) are promulgated as standards under this Act. The Fisheries Commodity Standard System and Traceability Division of DOF is the primary entity for certification of GAqP and other fisheries-related standards.

        There are numerous voluntary aquaculture standards for species such as abalone, blue swimming crab and mud crab, crocodile, softshell turtle, marine shrimp, tilapia, striped snake-head fish, and ornamental freshwater animals. There are also generic guidelines on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), veterinary drugs, marine finfish/shrimp farm, as well as freshwater aquatic animal farm and hatchery/nursery.

        Code of Conduct for marine shrimp farm and hatcher/nursery promulgated by DOF in 2003 still remains in force having been afforded legality and enforceability by the Royal Ordinance.
        International arrangements
        Thailand is a member of:
        • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO);
        • World Trade Organization (WTO);
        • World Organization for Animal Health (OIE);
        • The Global Environment Facility (GEF);
        • Mekong River Commission (MRC);
        • Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN);
        • Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA); and
        • Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC).
        Thailand is a party to:
        • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD);
        • Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB);
        • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES);
        • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); and
        • Convention on Wetlands of International Importance or RAMSAR Convention.
        Authorization system
        Any person wishing to engage in commercial fishing within Thai waters must obtain a commercial fishing license for particular fishing vessel. The following conditions must be clearly specified as part of the license
        • authorized number and type of fishing gears
        • fishing areas
        • maximum allowable catch
        • period during which fishing operations are allowed
        Issued commercial fishing license is valid for 2 years and transferable only to one’s parents, spouse and descendants. All licensees must not operate in coastal areas. Fishers wishing to use designated fishing gears, such as foldable trap, trawl net and push net, also need to obtain a license from DOF.

        Anyone engaging in aquaculture is to register with local DOF authorities to ensure access to government support and monitoring of regulatory compliance. Only marine shrimp farmers are required to register with Fisheries Offices prior to operation. Registration application must include written consent from the local municipalities and area plan of the operation.

        For marine shrimp farming operation larger than 80 000 square meters, one-year approval needs to also be acquired and continuously renewed on top of the registration.
        Access to land and water
        No one shall engage in aquaculture in areas within public domain of the State unless a license is granted by District Fishery Offices. Public domain is broadly defined to include land and water area not owned privately. Public waterways and near-shore sea fall under this definition.

        Criteria for granting license include total capacity, proximity from aquatic sanctuary and raw water capture point for utility, as well as impacts on navigation, irrigation, nearby communities and the environment.

        Furthermore, licensees must abide by the following conditions:
        • lighting and clear marking
        • non-construction of permanent shelter
        • non-use of banned drug, chemical or other material
        • sanitary and on-land disposal of the diseased and carcasses
        • others as specified in the license
        Certain species of aquatic animals and certain features of aquatic enterprises (size, form, type, objective etc.) may fall under aquaculture control as promulgated by ministerial regulation.

        Such control is aimed to prevent harmful environmental consequences, hazards to consumers and negative impact on other enterprises. This control applies regardless of whether the operation is within the public domain or not.

        Thus far, there are six (6) categories of controlled aquaculture including designated species such as marine shrimp, cray fish, crocodile, and sea shells. Only one aquaculture method (cage and pen culture) is controlled. For each category, Provincial Fisheries Committee must prescribe designated zone for its operation within the province.

        For cray fish (Procambarus clarkia) farmers, there are additional obligations to:
        • provide prior notification to local fisheries office in accordance with prescribed format
        • adopt heightened escapement prevention measures for pond/enclosure/container
        According to Promotion and Preservation of Environmental Quality Act of 1992, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), under the advisement of National Environment Board, can promulgate type and size of projects and activities that require submission of an EIA.

        Currently, aquaculture is not included among the designated activities that would trigger an EIA requirement.
        Water and wastewater
        Promotion and Preservation of Environmental Quality Act of 1992 empowers Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) to prescribe quality for sea, ground and underground waters.

        MoNRE is also granted authority to regulate wastewater discharge from point sources in the form of effluent standards. Owners and operators of regulated point sources must invest in on-site treatment facility to monitor, control and treat wastewater ensuring constant compliance with the discharge standards.

        Furthermore, an effective by-law of the Royal Ordinance on Fisheries imposes further conditions on particular quality of discharge from all registered and approved shrimp farms. It also demands that water treatment facilities must be installed with at least 10% of the operation areas dedicated to it.

        To date, specific effluent standards for coastal, brackish, and in-land aquaculture have been adopted and enforced by the collaboration between DOF, Department of Pollution Control of MoNRE and Marine Department under Ministry of Transport.
        Fish movement
        The Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 1992 also designates some aquatic animals as endangered and protected wildlife. Their breeding, trade, import, export and general movement are prohibited or subject to approval by DOF.

        Moreover, DOF is authorized by the Royal Ordinance to regulate importation, exportation, transiting and culturing and possession of rare aquatic species. Up to now, over 700 species have been declared as rare for protection.

        To meet traceability requirement, the Royal Ordinance requires those engaged in controlled aquaculture to furnish their buyers with purchasing documents in accordance with indicated form and format. In 2005, DOF developed a voluntary computerized traceability system known as TraceShrimp.

        Fish Escapement

        For each category of controlled aquaculture, DOF is authorized to determine prohibited specimen origins, to define characteristics of feed, drugs, chemicals not allowed for use well as well as to require preventative measures aimed to minimize negative impacts to the environment and customers.

        Out of the 7 categories under aquaculture control, DOF has only issued specific requirements for cray fish farming that specify containment specifications to prevent escapement.
        Disease control
        Animal Epidemics Act of 2015 imparts DOF with the power to issue orders for the confinement, isolation, movement of diseased aquatic animals if there are reasonable grounds for outbreaks.

        Under Section 65 of the Royal Ordinance, MAC can require permits for importation, exportation, transiting as well as culturing and possession of any kind of aquatic animal in order to curtail foreseeable harm potentially caused by epidemic diseases.

        Thus far, MAC has announced the following 5 species for this permit requirement:
        • Penaeus vannamei
        • Penaeus monodon
        • Penaeus stylirostris
        • Cyprinus carpio
        • Procambarus clarkii / Cherax quadricarinatus
        Veterinary drugs are generally governed by the Drug Act (1967), administered by Ministry of Public Health. The definition of ‘drug’ is fairly broad encompassing hormones, microbe, herb, nutritional supplement, disinfectant, and any other synthetic or biological materials with medicinal or therapeutic usage.

        The Ministry of Public Health can mandate registration, import license, use conditions of listed over-the-counter products and pharmaceutical components. In 2009, MAC issued GAP addressing the use of veterinary drugs for food producing animals to avoid the excess of maximum residue limits.

        On the other hand, chemical substance is governed by the Hazardous Substances Act of 1992. Hazardous substances are classified into four (4) categories with varying degree of requirements on specified criteria and procedures, registration, notification, permit, and prohibition.

        Even though the primary responsibility to administer the Hazardous Substances Act rests with the Ministry of Industry, the Act bestows direct authority to DOF as responsible agencies for control of chemicals used in fisheries and aquaculture.
        The Animal Feed Quality Control Act of 2015 is the main law controlling animal feed in Thailand. The Act prescribes certain feed type as “specific control animal feed” that must be registered. Permits are additional required for sale, manufacturing, and import. The 2015 Act also includes additional provisions regarding the issuance of quality assurance certificates (GMP, HACCP)

        The application of this Act for aquatic feed is administered Aquatic Feed Research and Development Division of DOF. The Act also authorizes MAC to declare prohibited material in animal feed mixture. Thus far, only the use of antimicrobial as growth promoter is explicitly banned.
        Food safety
        The Food Act of 1979 is the primary law preventing food-borne health hazards. The Act is mainly administered by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Ministry of Public Health. Large number of by-laws have been promulgated to set maximum limit of contaminants and residues for fresh and processed foods and culinary ingredients. The Act also transfers jurisdiction over food safety of aquatic products to DOF officials

        In this area, Fish Inspection and Quality Control Division is the main implementer within DOF. The Division inspects processing plants, analyzes raw material and end-product samples, validates qualities and issues health certificates to processor mainly for the purpose of export to high-value markets. The Division relies on Good Manufacturing Standards (GMP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) to carry out its mission.

        The Royal Ordinance also empowers DOF to develop hygiene standards relating to the catching, caretaking, and processing of aquatic animals, and the storage, transportation or transshipment of aquatic animals and animal products. However, these are aimed more at regulating wide-catch rather than aquaculture.
        Aquaculture investment 
        Investment Promotion Act of 1977 with the latest amendment in 2017 sets out criteria and procedure of application for investment promotion in Thailand. The Act is mainly administered by Board of Investment (BOI) and operationalized by 7-year Investment Promotion Strategy. The current strategy cycle is 2017-2021.

        Board of Investment classifies 2 groups of incentives
        • Activity-based incentives – incentives granted to listed economically important activities that can benefit from investment promotion
        • Merit-based incentives – additional incentives to encourage investment/expenditures that benefit the country or overall industry. Criteria include Competitiveness Enhancement, Decentralization, and Industrial Area Development
        Promotion package often includes both tax-incentives (exemption/reduction of import duties and corporate income tax) and non-tax ones (work permit, permit to own land, permit for foreign currency remittance).

        Under the current strategy, aquaculture except for shrimp is listed as an activity eligible for activity-based incentives provided that applying projects abide by the following conditions
        • must have propagation process.
        • must use modern technology, e.g. closed house system, evaporative cooling system, automatic watering and feeding system, vector control measure and system, sensor system for tracking and counting animals and effective environmental protection and impact reduction system.
        • must have traceability system.
        Additionally, BOI in 2014 issued a list of targeted industries eligible for merit-based incentives that include aquaculture operation (except for shrimp) to create economic linkages with neighboring countries, and to prepare for the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community. Merit criteria for aquaculture here are that the projects
        • must be within the Special Economic Development Zones in border areas.
        • must use modern technology, e.g. closed house system, evaporative cooling system, automatic watering and feeding system, vector control measure and system, sensor system for tracking and counting animals, and effective environmental protection and impact reduction system.
        Related resources

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