Fishery owners protest Thai arrests

Fishery owners in the Thai border town of Ranong are protesting arrests of Burmese migrant workers whom police allege have no legal permits to work in Thailand.

Around 100 protesters led by the province’s Fisheries Association on Tuesday parked 20 container trucks in roads leading to the Ranong governor’s office. They claim the spate of arrests has thwarted their work, causing fish to decompose. The Thai government has been asked to adopt more constructive policies in order to solve the problem of illegal migrants.

Authorities are now negotiating with the protestors, according to the chairperson of the Advisor Committee of the Ranong Fisheries Association, Nai Tawee Boonying. He said the fishery owners had threatened to dump rotting fish on every road in the town, which has become a hub for Burmese seeking work in the Kingdom.

According to Thai Outsourcing Department, Burmese migrant workers are the main source of labour in Ranong’s fishing industry in Ranong, which is the biggest processor of Thai fishing produce.

More than three million Burmese migrants are estimated to live in Thailand, the majority working in low-skilled industries such as fishing and construction, where safety is a concern. The quasi-legal status many of them hold means they often struggle to claim compensation.

Moe Wei, migrant affairs coordinator at the Thailand-based Grassroots Human Rights Education and Development (GHRED) group, said: “There are around 80,000 Burmese migrant workers in the fishing industry, making up most of its labour.

“There are also Thais but they mostly take up supervisor positions. The fishing industry in Thailand will be halted without the Burmese migrants.”

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