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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

More than just a carding system: Labour implications of the EU's illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing policy in Thailand

Kadfak, Alin; Linke, Sebastian


Globally, the EU plays a leading role in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities. Specifically, the EU exercises normative power to influence regulatory strategies and governing frameworks in third countries. In 2015, the EU issued Thailand a yellow card, indicating that economic sanctions would be implemented unless IUU fishing practices were eliminated. Concurrently, revelations about 'modern slavery' in Thailand's fishing industry had received international attention, through media and NGOs, exposing slavery-like practices among migrant fishworkers. Conventionally, the EU's IUU policy addresses only issues of catch and environmental sustainability. This paper explores how an initial bilateral dialogue was bifurcated into two dialogues: a Fishery Dialogue and a Labour Dialogue. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with involved actors, expert opinions, field-visits and secondary documents, we ask: How were labour issues integrated into the bilateral dialogue, and what consequences emerged from the IUU policy for Thai fisheries management? Tracing the bilateral dialogue between EU and Thai governments, we argue that Thailand's fisheries reform was a result of both fisheries' sustainability concerns and the kind of labour rights valued by the EU. Our Normative Power Europe approach shows how norms of labour rights shaped the reform through policies and implementation. We maintain that this unique case-study reveals how the EU incorporates a broad-based normative approach that goes beyond catch sustainability.


IUU fishing; Thailand; EU; Labour dialogue; Normative Power Europe (NPE); Fisheries sustainability

Published in

Marine Policy
2021, Volume: 127, article number: 104445

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG8 Decent work and economic growth

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Work Sciences

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