INVESTIGATING THE LINKAGES BETWEEN FISHERIES, POVERTY AND GROWTH: Thailand Case Study
Thailand Case Study
INVESTIGATING THE LINKAGES
BETWEEN FISHERIES, POVERTY
THAILAND CASE STUDY REPORT
A report prepared for the
Department for international development (DFID)
Project: “the role of fisheries in poverty alleviation and
growth: past, present and future”
23 May 2005
Thai government had included poverty eradication as one of the main nine national
policies. 13.47% of the 63.7 people lived in the Southern Region where there were
long coastlines where mainly dwelled by Thai fishermen. Recent population growth
was 0.66% a year. 1.75% of the total GDP (US$151.3 billion) came from fishing
sector, with a decreasing trend through the years.
“Poor people” were those below poverty line of US$31.4/month. There were 0.7
million poor people in the South, with a headcount ration of 8.3. Factors affecting
poverty were divided into two groups, per individual and per structure. Per individual
included lack of agricultural land and capital asset, indebtedness, low education, lack
of occupational skill, lack of information on occupation, materialism preference,
large family relatively to income earning capacity, and health problem. Pre structure
included lack of effective natural resource management, inequitable development in
favor for manufacturing sector, negative impact from open economy, legislative
system, lack of effective collaboration among government agencies and in spatial
development, and lack of effective budget allocation for poverty eradication.
Government strategies on poverty eradication were potential development for urban
and rural poor, social protection and safety net, macroeconomic policies, natural
resource management and legislative reform, and streamlining public administration
for poverty eradication. Government objectives were to increase the opportunity,
generate income, and reduce non-productive consumption expenditure among the
Fishery abundance in Thai waters had been degraded. Marine capture growth was
slower down. Important increase in fishing sector came mainly from development in
shrimp culture, a main source of foreign exchange earning. Trawlers were the main
fishing gears while main catches from trawls were trash fish for fish meal. Small
scale fishermen accounted for about 80% of total fishing population while their catch
contributed around 20%. Main fishing gear for small scale fishermen were drift gill
nets. Net return for an average small scale fishing family of five persons was
There were over fishing in Thai waters. Nevertheless limited effort had been on
controlling fishing effort. Ineffective control was due to limited capacity on effective
monitoring and enforcement. This over fishing was burden on small scale coastal
fishermen. Attempts had been on development of community-based fisheries
management and co-management. There were needs for legislation in support and
capable community organization for this management regime.
For poverty eradication, too little attention had been on the coastal poor. Future
poverty eradication policy in fishing sector could be capacity strengthening in
fisheries management, post harvest handling, value added processing, and marketing
on the basis of pro-poor development strategies. Constraints on lack of coordination
among relevant agencies, budget, human resource capacity, and marketing skill
should be alleviated.
ACRONYMS and ABBREVIATIONS
OTOP One Tambon (village) One Product
SML Small Medium Large
SPV Special Purpose Vehicles
GDP Gross Domestic Product
NESDB National Social and Economic Development Board
GNP Gross National Product
R&D Research and Development
CBFM Community-based Fishery Management
NGO Non Government Organization
COD Community Organization Development
DANCED Danish Consortium on Environment and Development
1. BACKGROUND 6
1.1 HISTORY, STRUCTURE AND NATURE OF 6
GOVERNMENT AND NATIONAL POLITICS
1.2 POPULATION 7
1.3 ECONOMIC STRUCTURE 8
1.4 INDICATORS OF NATIONAL CHARACTEISTICS 9
2. POVERTY 9
2.1 DEFINITION OF POVERTY IN THAILAND 9
2.2 FACTORS AFFECTING POVERTY 10
2.3 POVERTY REDUCTION STRATEGIES 11
3. ECONOMIC GROWTH 14
3.1 GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT 14
3.2 FISHING SECTOR 21
4. FISHERIES DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGEMENT 23
4.1 FISHERIES EXPLOITATION 23
4.2 WEALTH-RELATED BENEFITS 29
5. POLICY MAKING 30
5.1 POVERTY ISSUES 30
5.2 POVERTY AND THE FISHING SECTOR 33
LIST OF TABLES
Gross Domestic Product at Current Market Prices by Economic Activities, 14
1995 - 2002
Share of Economic Sector in GDP at current market prices, 1995 - 2002 15
Annual GDP Growth rate, 1996 - 2002 (%) 15
GDP at Current Market Price by Economic Activities 1995 - 2002 16
Table 1 Thai Population, 1980 - 2003 38
Table 2 Population Migration in Thailand, 2003 40
Table 3 Thailand’s Key Economic Indicators 41
Table 4 Gross Domestic product by Sector, Thailand 2000 - 2003 42
Table 5 Growth Rate of GDP by Sector, Thailand 2000 - 2003 43
Table 6 Thailand Political Development Indicators 44
Table 7 Thailand Social Development Indicators 46
Table 8 Thailand Economic Development Indicators 48
Table 9 Thailand Human Development Indicators 49
Table 10 Poverty line, Thailand by Region and Area 1996 - 2004 58
Table 11 People in Poverty, Thailand by Region and Area 1996 - 2004 58
Table 12 Head-count Ratio, Thailand by Region and Area 1996 - 2004 59
Table 13 Thai Export Volume and Value, 2001 - 2004 60
Table 14 Share and Growth Rate of Thai Export, 2001 - 2004 61
Table 15 Quantity and value of Production from Fishing Sector by Type of 62
Production, 1981 - 2000
Table 16 Share of Fisheries Production, 1981 - 2000 63
Table 17 Marine Capture by Type of Operation, 1981 - 2000 64
Table 18 Marine Catches by Species and Fishing Ground, 2000 65
Table 19 Marine Catches by Type of Fishing Gear and Fishing Ground, 66
Table 20 Number of Registered Fishing Vessels by Size and Type of Gear 67
Table 21 Share of Registered Fishing Vessels by Size and Type of Gear 68
Table 22 Marine Fishery Households by Type of Operation, 1995 and 2000 69
Table 23 Marine Fishery Households by Type of Operation, 1995 and 2000 69
Table 24 Number of Fishermen in Peal Season by Area aand Origin of 70
Table 25 Wage rate in Fishing Sector, 1996 - 2003 71
Table 26 Fish Processing Plants by type of Processing and Region 71
Table 27 Utilization of Marine Catches by Type of Processing 72
Table 28 Cost and Returns from Small Scale fisheries 72
Table 29 Source of Income of Small Scale Fisheries 73
1.1. History, structure and nature of government and national politics
Thailand is located in the central on
Southeast Asia, bordered by Laos to
the northeast, Cambodia to the
southeast, Malaysia to the south, and
Myanmar to the northwest.
There were long coastlines along the
lower eastern region and the
southeast, surrounded by the Gulf of
Thailand. On the southwest, there is
Andaman Sea. Totally, coastlines
were 2,624 km. long. in total. Coastal
fishing villages are located along
Recently the coastal development in
the East (Laem Chabang, Si Racha
and Sattahip) and the South (Phuket,
Surat Thani, Songkhla, Pattani) has
turned parts of these coastal areas to
industrial areas (Figure 1).
Figure 1 Map of Thailand
Thai Kingdom was established in the mid-14th century, governed by absolute
monarchy until 1932 when turned into constitutional monarchy. His Majesty King
Bhumibhol is the Head of the State. The official state administration rests on the
government headed by the Prime Minister. There is the Parliament and bureaucratic
system from the capital city down to the village level. Legislative power is vested
with the Parliament, through the elected House of Representatives and the elected
Senate. The parliament approves all legislative matters, to be signed by the King
before becoming the Thai Law.
Thai Rak Thai Party, led by Thanksin Shinawatra, won the election in February
2005. Thanksin Shinawatra became the Prime Minister for the second time. In
delivering the national policy to the Parliament in March, he stated that “…The next
four years will be four years that transform Thailand into a secure and sustainable
nation in every respect. The Government will provide the opportunities for the future
and lay solid foundations for the economy, society and politics by focusing on
strengthening the local people, replenishing the fertility of soil and water resources
and restoring the power of decision to the community. The Government will also
emphasize the restructuring of the economy and society to become more balanced,
immunizing the economic system and reforming the education system with the aim of
developing Thailand as a society with knowledge-based economy according to His
Majesty the King’s concept of a Sufficiency Economy. These efforts will lead
Thailand to become a country with balanced, prosperous, secure and sustainable
To achieve such statement goal, there are nine main policies covering 1) poverty
eradication, 2) human development and quality of life, 3) economic restructuring to
create equilibrium and competitiveness, 4) natural resources and environment, 5)
foreign policy and international economics, 6) development of the legal system and
good governance, 7) democracy and civil society process promotion, 8) national
security, and 9) directive principles of fundamental state policies.
For poverty eradication, at the grass root level asset capitalization is the mean for
capital access. Cooperative systems are to be promoted. The government will provide
mobile units “Poverty Eradication Caravan” giving advices and services for
professional development and training. At the community level local community will
be strengthened. Agricultural infrastructure will be developed. Marketing system for
the “One Tambon (village) One Product (OTOP)” will be improved. Budget will be
allocated under “Small Medium Large (SML) Scheme to enable the community in
alleviating their poverty problems. At the national level the government will
facilitate sufficient land ownership and increase efficiency in water resource
management. “Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV)” will be established for production,
processing, marketing, and access to capital funds in order to reduce farmers’ risk.
The emphasis is on farming sector.
Thai population was 63.7 million in 2003, 49.08% male and 50.92% female. Average
annual growth rate during 1980 – 2003 was 1.28%. The growth rate was higher in the
earlier years and decreased to be more stable recently. In 1980s the growth rate was
1.97% and decreased to 1.03% in 1990s. Recently during 2000 - 2003 population
growth rate was 0.66% a year (Table 1). Average population density was 123
Of this total population, 9.27% lived in Bangkok. 34.34% lived in the Northeastern
Region, 23.76% in the Central, 19.16% in the Northern, while only 13.47% lived in
the South. Coastal provinces are mostly located in the South along the Gulf of
Thailand on the east and the Andaman Sea on the west. Among the four Regions,
area of the Southern is the smallest (70,715 sq km). In term of population density,
population was crowded in, the capital city, Bangkok (3,734 persons/sq km)
followed by the Central Region (146 persons/sq km) and the Northeastern (128
persons/sq km). Population density in the Southern Region came in the third, 120
persons/sq km. The lowest density was the mountainous Northern Region (71
Immigration in to the coastal Southern Region was 0.68% of total population, lower
than the immigration in the Northeastern (2.70%), Central (1.43%), and the Northern
(1.18%). The immigration was least in Bangkok (0.46%). Immigration in the
Southern Region was mostly among southern provinces (0.53%), the rest were from
Bangkok, Central Region, Northeastern, Northern, and foreign countries accordingly.
Out migration from the south was 0.81%, thus there were more people moving out of
the Southern provinces. Reasons for immigration into the coastal Southern Region
were following the family to settle down there (0.25%), moving back to hometown
(0.10%), settling down (0.07%), looking for new occupation (0.06%), studying
(0.05%), being assigned to work there (0.05%), changing occupation (0.02%),
getting higher income (0.02%), working for family business (0.02%), taking care of
or being taken care of (0.02%), getting medical care (0.01%), and other reasons
(0.02%) . (Table 2)
Coastal area in Thailand was divided into five zones. Zone I is located along the
coastlines in the East (Trat, Chantaburi and Rayong), Zone 2 covers the coastlines
along the inner Gulf of Thailand (Chonburi, Chacheongsao, Samutprakarn,
Samutsakorn, Samutsongkhram, and Petchburi), Zone 3 covers the Gulf coastlines in
the upper South (Prachuapkhirikhan, Chumporn and Suratthani), Zone 4 covers the
Gulf coastlines in the lower South (Nakhonsithammarat, Songkhla, Pattani and
Naratiwat), and Zone 5 covers coastlines along Andaman Sea (Ranong, Phangnga,
Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun). Large coastal cites with population of over a
million are Nakhonsithammarat, Songkhla, Chonburi and Samutprakarn.
1.3. Economic Structure
GDP in 2003 was 5,930.4 billion baht (= US$ 151.3 billion) of which 10.03% was
from agriculture, other 89.97% was from non-agricultural sector, mainly
manufacturing (34.74%) and wholesale and retail trade including repair of vehicles
and household goods (15.42%). Fishing sector shared only 1.75% of the GDP, with a
decreasing share through the years while other agriculture share still increased being
8.28% of the GDP in 2003 (Tables 3 and 4)
GDP growth rate was as high as 6.16% in 2000, decreased to 4.28% in 2001 and
increased again to be 6.09% in 2002 and to 8.89% in 2003. GDP growth rate in
agricultural sector increased rapidly from 2.00% in 2000 to be 15.96% in 2003.
Nevertheless these increases were from the non-fishing sector. For fishery, the GDP
growth rate which was 13.82% in 2000 decreased to be -5.86% in 2001, -4.42% in
2002, and -1.89% in 2003. Non-agriculture GDP growth was lower than agriculture
GDP growth rate since 2001 being 4.16%, 5.75%, and 8.16% accordingly.(Table 5)
Unemployment rate in 1999 was 5.2% in February, 5.3% in May, 3.0% in August,
and 3.3% in November and tended to decrease in 2000 to be 4.3%, 4.1%, 2.4% and
Balance of payments was surplus being US$5.7 billions in 2003, It was preliminary
estimated to be the so in 20042. Trade balance had a surplus of US$1.7 billions being
lower than in 2000 – 2003. (Details are in Table 3.)
1.4. Indicators of National Characteristics
Labor Force Survey 1999 – 2000 Labor Force Survey 1999 – 2000, National Statistical Office.
Bank of Thailand
Indicators of national characteristics and development status are given in Table 6 – 9
(political, social, economic, and human development indicators).
2.1. Definition of Poverty in Thailand
“Poor people” are those below the poverty line. The poverty line was constructed on
the basis of food and minimum basic consumption requirements of each family
member. Such requirements are varied by age, sex, and spatial price difference. Thus
the “poor” means one with insufficient income to pay for these minimum
On the average the poverty line as estimated by the National Social and Economic
Development Board (NESDB) was 1,230 baht/person/month (approximately
US$31.4 at the exchange rate 39.2 baht/US$) in 2004, an increasing trend from 953
baht/person/month in 1996. There were 7.5 million poor people whose incomes were
below this poverty line, a decreasing from 9.8 million in 1996. The head-count ratio
decreased from 17.0 in 1996 to 12.0 in 2004. (Table 10 – 12)
The poverty line was higher in urban area. Urban poverty line in 2004 was 1,466
baht/person/month (US$37.4) while it was 1,119 baht/person/month (US$28.5) in
rural area. In urban area there were 1.0 million poor people while the other 6.5
million lived in rural area. Head-count ratios were 4.8 in urban area and 13.4 in rural
By region, there was only in the Central Region, not including Bangkok the capital
city, which the poverty line was above the country average (1,305 baht/person/month
compared to 1,230). Number of poor people was highest in the Northeast (3.8
million, 45.33% of the total poor). Most of these were those in the rural Northeast
(3.4 million). Low income from agricultural sector was the reason for being poor.
The Northeast region has been considered a least fertile region with lowest
agricultural yield due to relatively low soil fertility, drought, and lack of effective
irrigation system. Nevertheless the head-count ratio in the Northeast (17.9) was
second to the North (18.5). 3
The poverty line in the South, the coastal areas where most of the fishing villages
were located, was 1,190 baht/person/month, higher than in the Northeast (1,071
baht/person/month) Thailand and slightly higher than the North (1,148
baht/person/month) but lower than the Central and the country average.
There were 0.7 million poor people (9.33% of the total poor) in the South of which
0.1 million lived in urban area and the other 0.6 million in rural area. Compared to
the other region, not including Bangkok, number of the poor was least in the South.
NESDB reported that the differences were greater at the provincial level. In the South where by
region, the poverty seemed relatively less serious, there were still two provinces on the Malaysia
border, Yala and Narathiwas that the poverty was considered severe.
Headcount ratio in the South was 8.3 on the average, being 5.5 in urban area and 9.2
in rural area.
Due to economic crisis in 19974, the poverty in Thailand tended to increase;
nevertheless the reduction was slower in the rural areas indicating that economic
development had not reached the entire sector equitably. Farmers in the Northeast
left their farms seeking for employment in Bangkok and peripheries. Before the crisis
such migration was a factor of decrease in poverty in the Northeast. Nevertheless the
economic crisis led to increase in poverty. Head –count ration increased from 17.0 in
1996 to 18.8 in 1998 and even higher to 21.3 in 2001. Nevertheless after the
recovery, the ration decreased to 15.0 in 2003 and recently to 12.0 in 2004.
2.2. Factors Affecting Poverty
NESDB divided main factors of poverty into two groups: per individual and per
structure. The factors were as follows.
Lack of capital asset
Lack of agricultural land
Lack of occupational skill
Lack of information on occupation
Large family relatively to income earning capacity
Poor people in Thailand were mostly in agricultural sector. Coastal artisanal
fishermen were also considered “poor”. Lack of agricultural land and capital asset
constrained investment capacity for production efficiency and better income.
Farmers had to borrow for farm investment as well as to make their livings, thus a
chronic indebtedness, mainly with their traders. Low education, lack of occupational
skill and lack of information on occupation limited their job opportunities.
Development led to their materialism preference. Examples were the preferences on
television, motorcycle, and mobile phone. In rural sector, working age people usually
left home to find jobs in the cities. Children might be sent back to hometown during
their school age since cost of living in the cities was expensive. Thus in rural sector,
there were families with the old and the young, few working age thus low capacity in
earning income for the non-working members. Health was also considered a problem
among these poor.
In 1980s and early 1990s, economic growth in Thailand was two digits. The high income was
considered “bubble economy”. Real estate prices were unusually high resulting from the speculation.
High interest rate induced foreign capital inflow. Investors in Thailand sought low interest loans from
abroad. Financial liberalization eased the capital inflow and investment in Thai stack market. Thai
baht value was too high, leading to increasing imports and speculation on real estates. There was
influx of foreign loans and investment. The too strong baht value led to speculation in foreign
currency. When foreign capital was withdrawn, baht was devalued. This devaluation led to inability in
payment on foreign loan. Businesses had to be sold to foreign investors. Many were out of business
leading to decrease in income during the late 1990s. Employees were laid off.
Lack of effective management on natural resources including
forest, land, water, coastal, and fishery resources and
environment which led to overexploitation by commercial
sector, thus fewer resources for the poor.
Inequitable development in favor of manufacturing sector.
Open economy leading negative impact and higher risk for the
poor who were mainly in agricultural sector.
Legislation system which led to greater social inequity.
Lack of effective collaboration among government agencies
concerning poverty eradication.
Lack of collaboration in spatial development.
Lack of effective government budget allocation on poverty
Thailand has been one of the natural resource abundant countries. Nevertheless the
lack of effective resource management and rapid economic development had led to
resource degradation. Less benefit from resource exploitation had been share by the
poor. Open economy also led to resource overexploitation, mainly in manufacturing
sector. Without effective natural resource management, rapid development led to
resource degradation. Open economy without protection on small scale farmers
increase the poverty in this sector. Still the current legislations were in favor for the
development and higher income group, thus led to greater social inequality. While
there were government concerns in poverty eradication, there were lack of effective
coordination among relevant government agencies and lack of spatial development
collaboration in achieving this goal. Finally government budget allocation was
considered not adequately allocated for this goal.
2.3 Poverty Reduction Strategies
Government strategies in poverty eradication, according to NESDB, can be grouped
in to three missions as follows.
1. Develop the potential of urban and rural poor:
Urban poor, support on job security via
o Establishing occupation group and community
o Provision of low interest credit.
o Turning slum into community production area, as well
as uplifting living condition and environment.
o Provision of necessary social services.
Rural poor, support on occupation potential via
o Support on sustainable agriculture and self- sufficient
o Promotion on strengthening community economy.
o Promotion on occupation group.
o Raising community saving.
o Connection between community economy and private
o Better education for better alternatives and improved
Strengthening community capability via
o Promotion on community organization and
o Development on community organization, to be core
unit in local development and collaboration with other
o Promotion on community participation in public sector
decision making process.
Examples of action plan being undertaken include debt moratorium for
small farmers, village fund, One-Tambon5-One –Product (OTOP), long
term credit facilities, refinance informal loans, turning asset of the poor to
2. Develop social protection and safety net:
Develop health service system and training for the poor
o Fair health service
o Accelerate health insurance program at the nationwide
o Provide education and training for the disable ones
o Skill development for the poor for capital credit access
Provide social welfare
o Develop information system data base
o Improve existing revolving fund
o Promotion on community welfare fund
o Accelerate the establishment of unemployment
Examples of action plans are cash transfer to indigent elderly and disable
persons, universal health insurance program, provision on housing and
shelter, and drinking water, local authorities in education and life long
learning opportunity for the poor, and school bicycle.
3. Structural poverty eradication:
Promotion on macroeconomic policy in favor of poverty
o Increasing public conscious on self-sufficiency
o Develop capacity in economic, politic, social and
o Promotion on equitable economic development
o Low inflation targeting
o Least tax burden on the poor
o Least adverse impact from free trade regime
o Increasing equity in access to information system
technology for alleviating problem and increasing
opportunity for better life quality among the poor.
4. Natural resource management administration and legislative reform for
Tambon is a Thai word for sub-district.
Efficient resource utilization via
o Promotion on community role in natural resource and
o Acceleration on provision of agricultural land for poor
o Promotion on natural resource utilization zoning
o Promotion on urban planning
o Acceleration on water source and irrigation
o Support on establishing natural resource and
environment conservation and monitoring fund
o Increasing public sector natural resources and
environment concern on natural resource and
o Improve legislations concerning natural resources and
The emphases are on natural resource management, land settlement, and
5. Streamlining public administration for poverty eradication
Division of the government agencies involving poverty
eradication by their mission:
o Overall action
o Area action
o Supporting agencies
Decentralization on budget allocation
The focuses are on devolution of public resource management and
responsibility and community action plan for poverty reduction.
3. ECONOMIC GROWTH
3.1 Gross Domestic Product
In 2003, Bank of Thailand reported that the preliminary GDP at current market
prices was 5, 930 billion baht (= US$143 billion at 41.5 baht/US$). GDP in 2002 was
5,452 billion baht (=US$127 billion at 43.0 baht/US$). Average growth rate during
1995 -2002 was 2.98%. Fishing sector growth rate was 3.86%, higher than those in
non-agriculture (3.06%) and other agriculture sector (1.82%). Growth rate in
agricultural sector (2.29%) was low than the total average.
Gross Domestic Product at Current Market Prices by Economic Activities, 1995 - 2002 (bill. baht)
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Agriculture 398 438 447 499 436 444 468 511 2.29
Agriculture, Hunting and
314 350 352 391 332 326 357 407 1.82
Fishing 84 88 95 108 103 118 111 104 3.86
Non-Agriculture 3,788 4,173 4,285 4,128 4,202 4,479 4,665 4,941 3.06
Gross Domestic Product 4,186 4,611 4,733 4,626 4,637 4,923 5,134 5,452 2.98
Source: Calculated from Data of National Social and Economic Development Board
On the average, non-agricultural sector had the main share in GDP, 90.48%, while
agricultural share was only 9.52%. During the economic crisis in 1998 share of
agricultural sector slightly increased due to the decrease in contribution from non-
agricultural sector. Fishing sector shared only 2.12%, with a tendency to decrease
Share of Economic Sector in GDP at current market prices, 1995 - 2002 (%)
Item 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 Average
Agriculture 9.51 9.50 9.45 10.78 9.39 9.02 9.12 9.37 9.52
Agriculture, Hunting and
7.49 7.59 7.44 8.44 7.16 6.63 6.96 7.46
Fishing 2.01 1.91 2.01 2.33 2.23 2.39 2.16 1.91 2.12
Non-Agriculture 90.49 90.50 90.55 89.22 90.61 90.98 90.88 90.63 90.48
Gross Domestic Product 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
Source: Calculated from Data of National Social and Economic Development Board
Until 2000, annual growth in fishing sector was the higher. The exception was the
negative growth in 1999, which could be the impact of economic crisis. Nevertheless
growth rate in fishing sector increased again in 2000, and became negative afterward.
Annual GDP growth rate -
Source: Calculated from Data of National Social and Economic Development Board
Annual GDP Growth rate, 1996 - 2002 (%)
Item 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 1995-2002
Agriculture 10.10 2.07 11.50 -12.65 1.98 5.47 9.06 2.29
Agriculture, Hunting and Forestry 11.61 0.51 10.98 -14.99 -1.72 9.50 13.87 1.82
Fishing 4.47 8.25 13.43 -4.19 13.85 -5.69 -6.44 3.86
Non-Agriculture 10.15 2.70 -3.68 1.79 6.61 4.16 5.91 3.06
Gross Domestic Product 10.15 2.64 -2.24 0.23 6.17 4.28 6.19 2.98
Source: Calculated from Data of National Social and Economic Development Board
By economic activities, most contribution was from manufacturing sector (31.78%),
followed by wholesale, retail trade and repairing services (16.84%), and transport,
storage and communication (7.87%). Following these three was agriculture, hunting
and forestry (7.40%) and hotel and restaurants (5.41%). Contributions from other
activities were less than five percent.
GDP at Current Market Price by Economic Activities 1995 - 2002 (bill. baht)
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Agriculture, Hunting and Forestry 314 350 352 391 332 326 357 407
Fishing 84 88 95 108 103 118 111 104
Mining and Quarrying 50 63 82 84 87 117 126 136
Manufacturing 1,252 1,370 1,428 1,428 1,514 1,653 1,715 1,848
Electricity, Gas and Water Supply 101 107 119 142 130 146 167 176
Construction 303 342 272 179 166 150 154 166
Wholesale and Retail Trade; Repairing Service 709 763 812 786 801 848 857 867
Hotels and Restaurants 220 249 246 231 256 275 289 310
Transport, Storage and Communications 303 341 370 361 376 397 429 444
Financial Intermediation 297 328 309 235 156 146 151 166
Real Estate, Renting and Business Activities 143 155 157 153 157 161 164 172
Public Administration 158 171 181 195 204 211 222 245
Education 137 149 163 182 187 197 202 212
Health and Social Work 61 69 76 83 91 97 104 107
Other Service Activities 49 59 63 61 68 74 77 84
Private Households with Employed Persons 6 6 7 7 7 7 7 7
Source: Calculated from Data of National Social and Economic Development Board
Item 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 Ave rage
Agriculture, Hunting and Forestry 7.49 7.59 7.44 8.44 7.16 6.63 6.96 7.46 7.40
Fishing 2.01 1.91 2.01 2.33 2.23 2.39 2.16 1.91 2.12
Mining and Quarrying 1.20 1.38 1.74 1.82 1.88 2.37 2.46 2.50 1.92
Manufacturing 29.90 29.72 30.17 30.87 32.65 33.58 33.41 33.90 31.78
Electricity, Gas and W ater Supply 2.42 2.32 2.51 3.08 2.81 2.97 3.25 3.22 2.82
Construction 7.23 7.41 5.74 3.86 3.59 3.05 3.00 3.04 4.62
Wholesale and Retail Trade; Repairing Service 16.95 16.55 17.16 16.99 17.28 17.23 16.69 15.91 16.84
Hotels and Restaurants 5.25 5.40 5.20 4.99 5.52 5.59 5.63 5.68 5.41
Transport, Storage and Communications 7.24 7.40 7.82 7.80 8.11 8.07 8.35 8.15 7.87
Financial Intermediation 7.08 7.12 6.53 5.09 3.37 2.96 2.94 3.04 4.77
Real Estate, Renting and Business Activities 3.41 3.37 3.32 3.32 3.39 3.28 3.20 3.16 3.30
Public Administration 3.76 3.72 3.83 4.22 4.40 4.29 4.32 4.49 4.13
Education 3.28 3.24 3.45 3.93 4.03 3.99 3.94 3.88 3.72
Health and Social Work 1.46 1.49 1.61 1.80 1.96 1.96 2.03 1.97 1.79
Other Service Activities 1.17 1.28 1.33 1.31 1.47 1.50 1.50 1.55 1.39
Private Households with Employed Persons 0.14 0.13 0.14 0.15 0.15 0.14 0.14 0.14 0.14
Source: Calculated from Data of National Social and Economic Development Board
During 1979 – 1985 GDP at constant price increased at an annual average of 5.47%
and even higher to 9.41% during 1986-1995. Nevertheless the economic crisis in the
later half of 1990s reduced the growth rate. GDP decreased at an annual average of
6.24% during 1996 – 1998, and then recovered in 1999. During 1999 – 2003, the
average annual growth was 4.60%
GDP at constant 1988 price (billion baht)
High increase in GDP in late 1980s and early 1990s was the contribution from non-
agricultural sector, mainly manufacturing. During the crisis GDP from non-
agriculture sector decreased while agricultural sector increased slightly, leading to
decreases in GDP during 1996 – 1998. Later recovering was mainly due to the non-
agricultural sector. Share of agricultural sector, including fishing sector was limited
(less than 10% while fishing sector contribution was around 2%, with recent
GDP composition at constant 1988 price (billion baht)
Per capita GNP followed the same pattern as GDP being 91,420 baht/year in 2003
(=US$2,203 at 41.4 baht/US$).
!% % & (
Export earning has been important source of income for Thailand. Nevertheless it
was not until after the economic crisis, in 1999 the trade balance was positive.
Current account balance was negative before 1999. Positive net capital movement
resulted in gain in balance of payment until 1997. Since the crisis there have been net
capital outflow, which led to loss in balance of payment in 1998 and 2001. Total debt
outstanding was US$50.7 billion in 2003, of which the public debt was US$11.3
billion. The exchange rate was around 20 baht/US$ during 1879-1985, increased to
around 25 baht/US$ during 1986 – 1996. During the economic crisis exchange rate
increased sharply to 31.4 baht/US$ in 1997 and reached the peak 41.5 baht/US$ in
2001. In 2005, it was preliminary estimated to be 38.8 baht/US$.
Export and Import (billions of US$)
Current account balance and net capital movement
(billions of US$)
, ' % -
Balance of payments (billions of US$)
Composition of net capital movement (billions of US$)
!- !' . 0
Total debt outstanding and public debt (billions of US$)
0 ' !' '
)* & 13 (
3.2. Fishing Sector
Fishing sector shared around two percent in GDP, with a recent declining trend due
to fishery resource degradation in Thai waters. In term of export, details are in Tables
13 and 14. In 2004 of total US$97.7 billion export value, fishery export was US$3.9
billion; US$1.8 billion from primary fishery products and the other US$2.1 billion
from processed seafood.
Half of the primary fishery export values were frozen shrimp, mainly from culture.
Fish and squid shared were about the same, being about one-fourth of the primary
fishery export. Fish export value had been a little higher than squid.
Processed fishery exports were in various forms of value-added products and had a
higher share in exports of manufactured fishery exports. In 2004, value of
manufactured fishery export was US$2.1 billion of which US$1.3 was from
processed seafood (mainly shrimp) and US$0.8 billion from canned seafood (mainly
Shrimp had been the main source of foreign exchange earning from fishery exports.
Nevertheless these shrimp exports were mainly from culture not capture.
In term of production through 1981 – 2000, total fisheries production increased at an
average annual growth rate of 3.40% from 1.989 million ton in 1981 to 3.713 million
ton in 2000. Nevertheless, the growth rates were greater in culture (14.11% for
coastal culture, mainly shrimp and 9.85% for freshwater culture). Growth rate was
the least for marine capture (2.08%) while inland capture grew at 5.08% annually.
Details are in Table 15.
In term of production share marine capture share decreased at 1.13% annually, from
88.33% in 1981 to 74.70% in 2000. Coastal culture share increased most rapidly
being 10.50% annually, from a share of 3.93% in 1981 to 12.58% in 2000. Fresh
water culture share increased at 6.44% annually while inland capture share increased
only 1.68%. (Table 16)
Fishery abundance in Thai waters had been degraded. Marine capture growth was
slowed down. Important increase in fishing sector came mainly from development in
In term of value the increase in total production was 12.97% annually, much higher
than the volume growth rate. From 17.13 billion baht, the value increased to 157.46
billion baht in 2000. The highest growth rate was from coastal culture (27.12%),
greater than twice the second highest – freshwater culture (12.12%). The rapid
increase in share of coastal culture reduced the share from the other fishing sector. In
term of value, share of other sector decreased while the share of coastal culture
increased from 5.12% in 1981 to 58.81% in 2000, higher than the share of marine
capture (31.37%). (Table 15)
6 % + % , 7
Source: Fisheries Statistics of Thailand
Value of Fish Production 1981 - 2000 (billion baht)
Marine capture Inland capture Coastal culture Freshwater culture
Source: Fisheries Statistics of Thailand
Main contribution to Thai fishing sector was shrimp culture, with a rapid growth
since late 1980s. The development was induced good price in the international
market and coastal abundance in Thailand. For marine capture, most of the catches
were from trawlers. Main catches from trawlers were trash fish for feed mill. Rapid
increase in number of trawlers had rapidly depleted fishery resource abundance in
the Gulf of Thailand. Coastal fishermen, with limited alternatives on job opportunity
due to lack of skill and investment funds had been mostly affected from this resource
The rapid increase in trawlers was resulted by the development of otterboard trawlers
from Germany. Before trawlers main fishing gears were purse seines aimed for
pelagic fish. Due to fishery resource abundance, when otterboard trawl was
introduced, catches were high targeting on demersal resources. High earnings from
this fishing gear led to rapid increase in number of trawlers. Commercial fishermen
gained from this resource exploitation. Later there was overcapacity, thus over
fishing and fishery resource degradation. Such resource degradation had a negative
impact on coastal small scale fishermen who mainly relied on coastal fishery
resources. There had not been government subsidy on this fishing gear. Nevertheless
lack of effective control on number of trawlers was one of the cause of fishery
resource degradation in the Gulf of Thailand.
4. FISHERIES DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGEMENT
4.1. Fisheries Exploitation
After development in trawl fishery, main catches were demersal fish, of which a
large portion was caught as trash fish for fish meal industry. These trash fish were
low quality fish, caught mainly by trawlers, and were used for animal feed. Trawl
had been considered a destructive fishing gear. Young juvenile economic fish were
also caught as trash fish, by trawls. Fishery resource abundance in Thai waters was
rapidly depleted by trawling. There is a regulation on banning trawl within 3
kilometers from shoreline. Nevertheless due to long coastlines and limited budget
and personnel on monitoring and enforcement, this regulation had not been
effectively pursued its objective. Catch per unit effort reduced by ten times after the
boom in trawlers.
Recently due to resource degradation in Thai waters, large trawlers had to fish
outside Thai waters. There were a number of Thai trawlers fishing in neighboring
country waters, including Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Large Thai trawls had already been fishing in Indian Ocean, as well as in African
Fishery resource degradation in Thai waters, especially in the Gulf of Thailand was
burdened mostly on small scale fishermen, with small fishing vessels thus could not
fish far from home. These small scale artisanal fishermen relied on their daily
catches for home consumption as well as source of income.
In 1981 total marine capture was 1.757 million ton of which almost half (45.36%)
was trash fish. Food fish accounted for 32.84%, shrimp 7.91%, and shellfish 5.75%.
In 1983 total catch was the first time greater that two million ton. Trash fish share
decreased to 39.07%, food fish accounted for 32.85%. After 1983, total marine
catches fell below two thousand and picked up again in 1986 to 2.310 million ton.
Share of trash fish was 42.25%. In 1097, trash fish catch reached its peak 1.106
million ton. Total catch increased to 2.540 million ton and fell again until picked up
in 1991 reaching 2.827 million ton in 1995. In 2000, marine catch was 2.774 million
ton, 27.94% was trash fish while 51.95% was food fish. (Table 17)
Recently, resource degradation drove a number of trawls, especially the larger ones
outside Thai waters. A number of small trawlers which could not go fishing outside
Thai waters converted their fishing gear, mainly turning into anchovy purse seine.
Share of food fish increased.6
Marine Capture by Type of Catches, -
8 0 8 3 % , ' 6 3 8 /
Source: Fisheries Statistics of Thailand
Marine catch composition, -
# " # "
8 0 8 3 % , ' 6 3 8 /
Source: Fisheries Statistics of Thailand
Recently it had been estimated that about 30% of the catches were from non-Thai fishing ground.
In 2000, 74.76 % of total marine catches were from the Gulf of Thailand, the rest
were from Andaman Sea. Gulf of Thailand has been the main fishing ground while
the share from Andaman Sea has recently been due to fishery resource degradation in
the Gulf. Nevertheless catches from Andaman Sea received a better price7, thus in
term of value the share of the Gulf was 70.31%, lower than the volume share. Fish
was the main catches (79.88%), of which 30.32% was pelagic fish, 27.94% was trash
fish and the rest was demersal fish. Cephalopods shared 9.81%, crustaceans 5.26%,
and the rest 5.05% (mainly jelly fish). (Table 18)
Five top pelagic catches were sardines (for canning), Indo-Pacific mackerel (for
domestic consumption), anchovies (for dried/boiled dried for exports), scads (for
domestic consumption), and longtail-tuna (for canning). Demersal catches were
various. Top demersal catches included treadfin breams, big-eyes, and lizard fish.
Food demersal fish were for domestic consumption as well as export as frozen fish.
Trash fish which was about one-third of the total catches was mainly for animal feed
and fish meal. For crustaceans 3.17% were shrimp and 2.09% were crabs. Shrimps
were mainly frozen for export as well as domestic consumption. Small shrimps could
be canned or processed as dried and shrimp paste8 Crabs were for canning, as well as
for domestic consumption. Squid and cuttlefish were frozen for export and domestic
fresh consumption. Molluscs could be exported as canned and frozen as well as sold
for domestic consumption. Jellyfish were processed for export and for domestic
Main fishing gear in Thai fisheries were trawls. More than half of the marine catches
were from trawls (58.43%). These trawls were mainly fished in the Gulf of Thailand.
Otter board trawl was the main gear. 48.41% of the total marine catches were from
this gear. Other trawls included pair trawl (large commercial scale fishery) and beam
trawl (small scale fishery). Purse seine contributed 25.70%. Anchovy purse seine
was specific gear using fine mesh size, thus was separated from the usual purse
seine. Catches from anchovy purse seine was 4.87%. Gill nets were various and
shared 4.13% of total marine catches. Important gill net included crab gill net and
shrimp gill net, the main fishing gears among coastal small scale fishing households.
Shrimp caught from these gill nets could get high price due to better quality.
Nevertheless there was conflict between these gill net fishermen and trawlers as well
as push netters. Indo-Pacific mackerel gill net had been long important fishing gear
in this country. Other fishing gears included mobile net (1.40%), light luring gears
mainly for squids and anchovies (0.66%), hook (0.24%), stationary gears mainly
traps (0.97%), and others mainly jellyfish fishing and shell fish collecting(8.48%).
Total number of registered fishing vessels in 2000 was 17,295.9 About half
(49.37%) were vessels of less than 14 m long, with an average 7 – 8 gross ton. Other
about one-fourth each were those 14 – 18 m and 19 – 25 m. Only 1.20% was vessels
Due to different topography, Gulf of Thailand was shallow whether Andaman Sea was deep. Catches
from Gulf of Thailand consisted mainly of lower value demersal species including trash fish. Catches
from Andaman Sea were relatively more of higher value pelagic species.
Popular ingredient for many Thai dishes.
Nevertheless Mr. Wicharn Sirichaiekawat, President of Sirichai Fishing Group estimated that there
were over 35,963 fishing vessels, in total. Thus the registered fishing vessels were less than half of
of longer than 25 m long. 19 -25 m vessels share was largest in term of gross ton
(56.75%). Tables 20 – 21)
More than one-third of registered fishing vessels (35.58%) were otter board trawls.
There were 11.44% less than 14 m long, 11.84% 14 – 18 m and 11.48% 19 – 25 m.
Those longer than 25 m long shared 0.83%. Other important gear among the
registered vessels were squid falling net (12.12%), various gill nets (8.01%), pair
trawl (9.73%) shrimp trammel net (6.16%), surrounding net (5.72%), crab gill net
(4.98%), anchovy falling net (4.76%), push net (3.69%), anchovy surrounding net
(2.97%) and lift nets (2.00%).
Fishing gears were various, Thai fisheries were multi-gear and multi-species. The
main fishing gear, otter board trawl was non-selective gear. Catches were multi-
species. Other demersal fishing gears, including push net, were also non-selective.
Some coastal fishing vessels used different fishing gears in different season
depending on available resources. The underreported number of fishing vessels and
fishing gears led to problems in effective fishery management.
In 1995 there were 53,112 marine fishing households. 89.7% were small scale and
other 10.3% were commercial scale. Most of the fishermen were small scale while
most of the catches were from commercial scale. Number of fishing household
increased 8.8% in 2000. Nevertheless while there were more small scale fishing
households (increased by 12%), number of commercial scales households decreased
by 18.8%.Share of small scale increased to 92.7% in 2000, while total fishing
households was 57,801. Most of the fishing households were in Coastal Zone 4 and 5
in Southern Region. (Table 22)
Of 57,801 marine fishing households 1,820 also practiced coastal culture (mainly
shrimp). Investment in shrimp farming was relatively high10 and was difficult to be
affordable by small scale fishermen11. Usually fishermen who also kept aquaculture
were successful fishermen with access to capital investment. Including coastal
culture household, number of fishery households was 93,512 in Year 2000, an
increase of 15.9% compared to Year 1995. Increase in marine fishing household was
11.6%, lower than the increase in coastal aquaculture (29.4%). There was a decrease
in households which kept both practices, This could be explained by the more
difficult capture fisheries and higher risk in coastal culture due to degraded coastal
environment. (Table 23)
Require not less than US$25,000 to start a small shrimp farm.
Small scale fishermen were those artisanal coastal fishermen with fishing vessels of 5 ton gross or
lower. Most of them used outboard engine fishing vessels. Some used non-engined vessels or without
any vessel. These fishermen could not go fishing far away from the coastlines. Usually their fishing
grounds were about 5 kilometres from shoreline. Their fishing trips were daily. Their main fishing
gears were drift gill net, traps, hook and lines. Commercial fishermen used larger engined vessels.
Main gear was trawl. Their fishing trips were not daily but longer depending on size of the vessel.
Trawls and engined push net, of those commercial fishermen were banned within three kilometres
from shoreline. Nevertheless the enforcement was not effective. There had been conflicts between the
commercial and small scale fishermen in coastal areas. For aquaculture operators, sizes were varied by
type of operation. For example for shrimp farms, those with less than 5 hectares could be considered
Beside the above, there were fishery employee households, 29,122 in Year 2000 a
decrease of -0.6% from 1995 due to decrease in coastal aquaculture employee
households. There had been a downfall in coastal aquaculture since early 2000s.
In Year 2000, number of fishermen in peak season was 168,140. Almost half
(48.09%) were family member, the rest were employees (51.91%). Most of the
employees were local residents (19.11%). Nevertheless 17.38% were foreign labor,
mainly from Myanmar. There were also some Cambodians. 11.06% were employees
from the Northeastern Region, with a decreasing trend since they could get non-
fishing jobs due to the coastal zone development. Employees from the other areas
were only 4.20%. More than half of these employees worked in the Southern Region
in Coastal 5 (28.27%), Coastal Zone 4(26.90%), and Coastal Zone 2 (23.66%).
Wage rate of employees in fishing sector was a little lower than the average rate of
the country, but still higher than the wage rate in non-fishing agriculture sector. The
National Statistical Office conducted two labor force surveys in 2003, in February
and August. The wage rates in fishing sector were 4,346 and 4,492 baht/month
accordingly. The country average wage rates were 5,533 and 5,842 baht/month.
Fishing employees earned almost twice of the employees in other agricultural sector
(2,452 and 2,345 baht/month). They were better paid than the private household
employees, being the third lowest wage paid. The highest wage rate was in financial
sector (15,757 and 16,642 baht/month). Ratio of woman employees in fishing sector
was around 40%, mostly in processing which could bet a better wage.12 (Table 26)
Wage Rate in Fishing Sector - (baht/mth.)
0 - /
Source: Labor Force Survey, National Statistical Office
Related fishing activities, beside coastal aquaculture as aforementioned, could
include processing and trading. Processing could be household processing and
commercial processing. Household processing was simple and sold for domestic
market, mostly shrimp paste and salted and dried fish. Commercial processing could
be for domestic consumption and for export. Domestic processing included fish
Wage rate in manufacturing sector was about 6,000 baht/month.
sauce (partly exported), steaming, smoking, dried and salted, fish ball, shrimp
cracker, and fish meal. Export processing included freezing (mainly shrimp) and
canning (mainly tuna, fish shrimp, and crab).
In 2000, there were 142 freezing/cold storage plants. Most of them were located in
Coastal Zone 2 along the coast of the inner Gulf of Thailand and scatter along the
coast of the Southern Region. There were 40 canneries, mostly in Coastal Zone 2 and
3 (the lower south along the coastlines of the Gulf of Thailand). Fish sauce plants
were 86, could be found most in Coastal Zone 2 as well as 1 (coastlines in the
Eastern Region). Budu fish sauce plants were 123 and were located only in coastal
Zone 3. The budu is special fish sauce for southern dishes. There were 80 steaming
plants (mainly for Indo-Pacific mackerel and similar fish) and 17 smoking plants.
Number of dried/salted plants were numerous (665 fish, 124 shrimp, 381 squid, and
160 mollusc) since most were small scale processing. There were 82 fish ball
processing plants. Fish ball was important ingredient for noodle dish. Shrimp cracker
processing plants were 148, mainly in Coastal Zone 3. Fish meal plants, utilizing
trash fish, were 94. (Table 26)
In term of utilization, food fish was mainly frozen (30.8%), canned (30.0%) and
consumed fresh (22.8%). All trash fish was for fish meal processing. Shrimp was
mostly frozen (49.7%), mainly for export. It was also canned (29.0%) for export.
Fresh shrimp for domestic consumption was 17.1%. 4.2% was dried, also for
domestic consumption. Sergistid shrimp was totally for shrimp paste processing.
Crab was mostly consumed fresh (52.4%). 35.8% was canned and 11.8% was frozen
for export. Shellfish was also mainly for domestic consumption, 60.9% fresh. 23.3%
was canned and 3.1% was frozen, for export. Squid was mostly frozen (64.9%) for
export. 18.3% was consumed fresh, domestically. 10.0% was dried. High quality
dried squid was exported (mainly to Japan). 6.8% was canned, for export. Jellyfish
was mostly dried (99.8%, both for domestic consumption and export. (Table 27)
It was estimated that fish processing employees were around two hundred thousand,
Average fish consumption was 22 kg/person/year, 28% of animal protein
consumption. In the former days fish was the main dish in every meal. There was a
saying “there was rice in paddy fields and fish in water sources” reflecting food
abundance in Thailand. Nevertheless the fish in this saying rather meant for
freshwater fish in traditional consumption. For marine fish, Indo-Pacific mackerel
had been popular, not only for the southern residents but overall country as well.
Recently marine fish at the size of serving plate has been more acceptable among the
urban households. Convenient cooking service provided by supermarket helped
increase this consumption.
Costs and returns of small scale fisheries are given in Table 28. In Year 2000, overall
the value of sold catches was 125.083 baht/hh/yr. Part of the catches was for home
consumption. Cost of fishing was 52,012 baht, leaving a net return of 73,072 baht.13
Main cost of fishing was fuel cost which was 40.7%. The costs as recorded did not
take into account family labor cost. Usually for small scale fisheries 1-2 family
Average family size was 5 persons per household.
members engaged in fishing. By type of gears, push netter earned highest net return.
Net returns form shrimp gill net, crab gill net, mullet gill net were similar. The
conflicts in fishery resource utilization between push netters and gill netters were
observed. Push net was considered a destructive fishing gear, while push netter
complaint that gill net obstruct their sailing.
Small scale fishermen could earn income from other sources besides fishing. Fishing
income, on the average, was 81.5% of total income. They could also earn 2.3% from
related activities including coastal culture and processing. They could earn 16.2%
from on-fishing sector. Total income was 89.684 baht/household/yr, lower in Coastal
Zone 5 and 4 due to smaller size of operation while the dependency on non-fishing
sector was a little higher (16.9% and 18.6% accordingly). (Table 29)
4.2 Wealth-Related Benefits
Before the bureaucratic reform in October 2002, Department of Fisheries was the
sole Fishery Management Unit. Relevant agencies in marine fishery management
were Division of Marine Fishery and the Local Fisheries Office in each province, in
collaboration with Legislation Unit in Office of Department Secretariat. There had
been problems on inadequate personnel and budget for effective fisheries
management. Fishery law and regulation were not up to date, based on the 1947
Royal Decree on Fisheries which was basically designed for freshwater fisheries.
After the reform the responsibility on marine resources has been divided between
Department of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and
Office of Marine and Coastal Resources under the Ministry of Natural Resources and
Environment. In Department of Fisheries, relevant agencies include Office of
Fisheries Management Administration and Office of Marine Fisheries Research and
Development. Their responsibilities are on legislative matters, monitoring, control
and enforcement as well as R&D on marine fisheries resources. Provincial Fisheries
Office acting as the coordinating unit between the Central Department of Fisheries
and the Provincial Office. In the existing bureaucratic system the governor acts as
chief executive officers. Local government agencies have to collaborate in making
plans, determine the missions and implement. Department of Fisheries is the main
fishery management unit, in collaboration with the relevant agencies. Office of
Marine and Coastal Resources was responsible for resource rehabilitation and
So far, Department of Fisheries has set the target in marine fishery management,
focusing on the production target. It was stated that the production in Thai waters
should not less be than 1.7 million ton per year and uneconomic exploitation (mainly
trash fish) should be reduced not less than 100,000 ton per year. Unlike the usual
fisheries management plan, the fishery policy has been targeted at the production, not
management for optimum sustainable yield.
Panayoutou and Jetanavanich (1987) referred to South China Sea (1976 and 1987),
Menasveta et al.(1973 and Bahtia et al. (1983) estimated that the maximum
sustainable yield for demersal fish resources in the Gulf of Thailand was 0.768
million ton and 0.200 million ton in Andaman Sea, for pelagic fish resources they
were 0.365 and 0.071 million ton accordingly.; a total of 1.404 million ton. lower
than the maximum target production as set by Department of Fisheries. Compare to
the reported catches, the fishery resources has already been overexploited.
Panayoutou and Jetanavanich (1987) applied bio-economic fixed price model for
fisheries in the Gulf of Thailand. Their findings indicated that at maximum
sustainable economic yield, the effort should be 61.46 % of the actual effort in 1982.
At this optimum control there would be an economic rent of 14.173 billion baht. The
catch from the Gulf of Thailand would be 0.9 million ton, slightly less than the
maximum sustainable yield. Nevertheless action had not been taken to effectively
reduce the fishing effort.
Fishing vessels were required to register the vessel with Department of Harbor,
Ministry of Communication; and register the fishing gear with Department of
Fisheries which they would be charged for fishing licenses. Charge rate was very
low, reflecting only the registration fee, not for the economic rent in fishing.
Nevertheless less than 70% of the total vessels in Thai waters registered with
Department of Harbor. Less than 30% registered their fishing gears. There were 30%
of the vessels which did not registered at any department.14 Thus there was a problem
in effective control on fishing effort in Thai waters. Without proper licensing system,
it was difficult to effectively control fishing effort. The excessive fishing effort
which led to overfishing and fishery resource degradation could not be effectively
reduced. The buy back scheme was proposed but had never been undertaken due to
budget constraint as well as difficulty in effective control on number of fishing
There were more than three hundred landing points for marine captures along the
long coastlines, thus difficult to be controlled. Limited fishing access via quota
regime was considered difficult and would not be efficient for multi-gear/multi-
species fisheries in Thailand, especially for scattered small scale fisheries.15
Thus fisheries management schemes were more oriented on resource renewal like
closed-area and closed-season. Once resources were renewed it would attract more
fishing effort and finally resource degradation.
The lack of effort control and over fishing was burden on small scale fisheries.
Resource rent, before being dissipated, was enjoyed by capable fishermen, mainly
commercial fishermen. Those fishermen with access to the rent, afforded investment
in more profitable non-fishing sector as well as building up their capacity to fish
outside Thai waters. It had been small scale fishermen, without alternative non-
fishing earning, who suffered from fisheries resource degradation in Thai waters.
Attempts had been on development of community-based fisheries management
(CBFM) and co-management. Still, there were need for legislation in support for this
regime and need for capable community organization for fisheries management.
Recently, various NGOs had been working in support for strengthening community
organization for coastal fisheries management. Federation of Southern Fishermen
Based on the estimation by Mr.Wicharn Siorichaiekawat, President of Sirichai Fisheries Group.
Large commercial fisheries could run their own landing places. Department of Fisheries might not
be capable in effective quota control.
was established and had been working effectively in participation on policy and
planning, for coastal poor.
5. POLICY MAKING
5.1. Poverty Issue
Poverty reduction/eradication has been one of the important national agenda.
Number of the poor had been decreasing through the years. Before economic crisis,
Thai economic growth rate had been recorded high probably the highest among the
highest among Southeast Asian countries. Nevertheless, income disparity was still
the problem. Income gap was considered higher than neighboring countries. There
were regional and sectoral inequalities, in favor for the metropolitan areas and
manufacturing sector. Poverty has been concentrated in Northeast, North and South
regions. The poor mainly lived in the villages and engaged in farming, with limited
Inadequate education and skill limited job opportunity among the poor. Government
had put effort in poverty reduction through various community development schemes
including strengthening their capacity and providing sources of investment fund.
Priority has been given on human resource development to reduce income disparities
since the 8th National Economic and Social Development Plan (1997 – 2001), with
emphases on decentralization, enhancing community roles, and rehabilitating natural
resource and environment.
Rapid economic development, especially before the economic crisis, had put the
priority on industrial development which relied on imported raw material and
technology while being less aware of the loss of the society and natural resource
endowments. Export oriented production had adversely affected the poor.
Infrastructure development concentrated in large cities leaving behind the rural
sector, leading to greater disparity. Limited access to capital investment fund among
the poor even greater limited their opportunity to share the economic growth.
Government of Thailand pro-poor macroeconomic policies put the emphases on the
- Rational exploitation on natural resources and environment
- Growth in the sector which the poor relied on, to provide job and
income for poverty reduction
- Mild inflation to lessen price instability
- Rational exchange to reduce price instability and increase
- Maintaining interest rate to induce investment in technology and
equipment for effective input utilization
- Low interest rate credit on capital investment for the poor
- Increase government budget for poverty eradication
Details are available from NESDB (2003), NESDB (2004), NESDB (2005) and
- Promotion on value added and upgrading labor skill and
- Pro-poor safety net against trade liberalization
Policies for poverty eradication included 1) Macroeconomic policy in support for
safety net for the poor e.g. investment in agriculture and agro-industry, value added
for agricultural products, targeting inflation management to lessen negative impact
on the poor, improve tax collection in favor for the poor, provision on access to
information system and technology, and provision to protect adverse impact from
trade liberalization regime; 2) Promotion on basic social services and infrastructure
e.g. provision on social welfare, health insurance, and social security; 3) Promotion
on collaboration among relevant agencies and policies in poverty eradication; 4)
Efficient management administration system covering self-sufficiency policy,
development on poverty indicators, improved legislation in favor of better
opportunity for the poor, and improved laws and regulations on natural resources and
environment to increase local participation in resource management.
Government objectives were 1) increasing opportunity 2) income generation and 3)
reducing non-productive consumption expenditure. Investment funds were provided
to increase opportunity for the poor through village fund, people bank, and small-
medium enterprise bank. Programs for these strategies included small-scale low
interest loans for poor households, cash transfer for elderly and the poor, and in kind
transfer (medical services and school lunch program). Attempts were on rural
development through the support on local productive capacity, infrastructure
development, job creation, and provision on basic social services. After the economic
crisis, through the international support, investment funds were made available for
the poor.17 Better education was provided through access to education, curriculum
reform, and skill improvement. Compulsory education was extended from 9 to 12
Action plan in poverty eradiation were dived into 1) macroeconomic policy with the
emphases on turning assets in to capital investment fund and tax policy in favor for
the poor; 2) Increasing capacity of the poor with the emphases on community
planning, village fund, debt moratorium, and people’s bank; 3) Natural resource
management with the emphases on land use planning, agricultural economic zoning,
and water resource and forestry management; 4) social safety net with the emphases
on health insurance and social services to the poor; and 5) public management
administration system with the emphases on budget revision18 and role of the
Committee on Regional and Local Growth Distribution Policy.
According to the National Social and Economic Development Board (NESDB), three
main objective for poverty eradication included 1) Reducing poverty and income
disparities via indigenous knowledge and community organization; 2) Increasing
competitiveness via increasing domestic productivity and export; and 3) Sustainable
development via human resource development, management administration, people
participation and natural resource conservation and development.
Examples were Social Investment Project (SIP) supported by the World Bank, Asian development
Bank, and Japan; Social Sector Program Loan (SSPL) supported by Asian Development Bank, and
Economic Recovery Social Sector Program Loan (ERSSPL) supported by Japan.
About 13% of the government budget has been allocated for poverty eradication, with an
increasing share through the years.
Overall NESDB evaluations on poverty eradication were as follows:
- Headcount ratio decreased from 14.2% to 10.3% in 2002
- Income gap between the richest and poorest reduced from 14.8% in 2000
to 13.7% in 2002
- Agricultural household income increased 14.3% in 2002
- Unemployment decreased from 3.59% in 2000 to 2.24% in 2002.
The core government agency in responsible for the design of poverty eradication
policies was the National Social and Economic Development Board (NESDB).
Implementing agencies would collaborate in undertaking the action plan. Under the
umbrella of NESDB there was an NGO “Thai Bhattana Foundation” working closely
with NESDB on self sufficiency economic regime and civil society. Recently
NESDB put the priority on strengthening community organization for poverty
eradication. During the 8Th Plan Committee on Regional and Local Growth
Distribution Policy was established. Subcommittee on Action Plan for Poverty
Eradication Strategies was set up to coordinate the action plan among Committee on
Regional and Local Growth Distribution Policy, National Committee on Urban
Development, and National Committee on Social Policy. Experts and representatives
from civil society were included in this subcommittee. The tasks in action plans
would be assigned to relevant agencies, in collaboration with community
organizations and NGOs, under supervision of the Committee on Regional and Local
Growth Distribution Policy.
Poverty eradication plan, holistic government budget plan, community planning
project, and community networking were undertaken. Still there were problems on
ineffective management administration (lack of integration, limited participation of
relevant agencies, focus on public role, limited participation from the poor,
coordination between public sector and the community); limited pro-poor structural
adjustment for natural resource management and legislation ; and lack of supportive
plans (reducing rural poor expenditure, market promotion, agricultural land for poor
5.2 Poverty and The Fishing Sector
The poorest in Thailand were rural dwellers that relied mainly on agriculture, in the
Northeaster Region. 19.6% of the poor lived in the rural Northeastern Region while
there was only 9.2% in rural Southern Region, mostly coastal areas. On the average
fishermen were not considered poor. NESDB (2001) reported that the “poor” villages
in the Southern Region accounted for 1.72% of the total country poor villages. The
main reason for being poor was lack of agricultural land, thus could not grow paddy
for domestic rice19 consumption. Poverty eradication was focused on non-fishing
Nevertheless, duality existed in Thai fishing sector. There were large commercial
sector that had been benefited from the resource rent when fishery resources were
still abundance, and small scale artisanal sector who suffered from resource
degradation. Small scale fishing household, on the average, could earned net income
Rice is the staple food for the Thais.
from their fishing. They were considered better off compared to landless farmers in
the Northeastern Region.
Nevertheless negative impact from fishery resource degradation had been aware. In
poverty eradication scheme, fishing sector was mentioned in the part of improvement
on natural resources and environmental management. Fishery resource abundance,
especially in the Gulf of Thailand, had evidently been degraded. The need for Thai
water rehabilitation was realized both in public and private sector.
Attempts on natural resource, including fishery resource, management in poverty
reduction scheme were to revise the rules and regulation and increase the role of
local community in natural resource management. While water resources and
forestry resources20 had the priority in poverty reduction scheme, community-
based/co-management had been developed in coastal fisheries. Collaborations were
found among relevant government agencies (both central and local), NGOs, and the
coastal communities. Department of Fisheries put effort on uplifting living condition
for coastal poor through extension on non-destructive fishing gear and fish
processing and provision on revolving fund.
Fishing sector has been one important source of foreign exchange earning for
Thailand. Thus the poor fishing sector might have not been a clear picture. During
the years of abundant resources, government policies for the fishing sector were
increasing productivity oriented, from capture as well as culture. The priority had not
been given on rational resource exploitation, thus Thai fisheries were soon degraded.
First to suffer from the degradation were coastal small scale fishermen. In
collaboration with NGOs, the fishermen established the Federation of Artisanal
Fishermen. The NGOs in the Southern Thailand were actively involved in the
activities in lack of government support, playing significant development role in poor
fishing villages. Success of the Federation was due to strong community
organization, partially supported by the NGOs. Partnership among the fishermen and
various NGOS were developed. Among Thai Muslim fishing village, rural
microfinance was developed, leading to investment fund and employment generation
for the coastal poor.
One of the keys of success in involving local community in fishery resources
management is the capability of local community organization. There had been a
number of successful community-based fishery management in Southern Thailand,
with support from NGOs.
Strong leadership, good governance and transparency could be the basis for
developing capable community organization for fishery resource management.
Besides human factor, geographical boundary was another key. A “close” (or semi-
close) boundary of the fishing ground could ease the monitoring, thus more
effectively regulated. Legislation on community-based/co-management was another
requirement. Department of Fisheries had put effort in drafting legislation for this
Efficient water resource management was essential in increasing farming productivity. Forestry
resource management was essential for reducing soil erosion, increasing soil fertility, lessening
drought and flood; thus better faming productivity. Poor villagers living along the buffer zone
depended on forest products for their living as well as income generation.
regime. There was still some disagreement from stakeholders who had a potential
loss from this management regime.21 Local coastal community, at present could
monitor but once there was any intrusion or illegal fishing in their waters22, they did
not have the right to enforce. Effective collaboration from the public sector was
required for the enforcement.
Socio-economic studies in small scale fishing sector were undertaken in late 1970s
under the Small Scale Fisheries Development supported by International
Development Research Centre. The project covered a number of Asian countries,
including Thailand. Nevertheless the results were not implemented in policy term, in
Thailand. In mid 1980s, Panayotou conducted several studies on small scale Thai
fisheries. Panayotou and Jetanavanich (1985) gave empirical evidence that the Gulf
of Thailand had been over fishing. They recommended an immediate halt in
construction of new trawlers, licensing to control existing vessels, artificial reef to
enhance resource abundance for coastal fisheries, and community fishing right. The
first two had never been effectively undertaken. Through the FAO advice,
Department of Fisheries agreed on artificial reef. In late 1980s more intention was on
development community-based fishery management.23
Loss of juvenile economic species caught as trash fish was one of the problems in
development of Thai fisheries. Suteemechaikul (1992) estimated an economic loss of
juvenile catches as trash fish by push net and small trawl in Ban Don Bay (in the
upper south, Gulf of Thailand) to be 82 – 302 million baht, varied by type of gear
and size of vessel. The Bay had been over fished. Economic rent varied by type of
gear and size of fishing being 27 million baht/year for 14-18 m pair trawl to 890
million baht/year for push net. Dejboon (1998) applied the same estimation
procedure for large push net in lower Gulf of Thailand. Loss of juvenile economic
species was 0.46 million baht/yr/vessel while the net return, on the average, was less
than ten thousand baht not accounting for the juvenile loss. These two studies
provided empirical evidence on the loss from trawls and push net.
Nevertheless the aforementioned studies were based on single species fixed price
bio-economic model which might not be suitable for multi-species trawl and push net
fisheries in Thailand.
Once the fishery resources were degraded, large trawl left the Gulf of Thailand for
new fishing grounds. Small trawls were adjusted for anchovy fishing, using fine
mesh size. Anchovy light luring fisheries were considered destructive and had
adverse impact on coastal fisheries. In 1999 Federation of Artisanal Fishermen
requested the government to control such fishing gears. Research team from
academic institutes was assigned to conduct studies for policy making. Study results
indicated that coastal fisheries were adversely impact and there should be control on
anchovy light luring fishing effort.24
Trawler that fished in coastal waters could disagree since they might not be able to continue their
fishing. Nevertheless through the negotiation, plausibility could be granting tradable fishing right to
the coastal community. Similar regime had been conducted in coastal Japanese Fisheries.
Examples were trawl and motorized push net within three kilometers from the shoreline.
Thailand National Policies can be found at http://www.fisheries.go.th/english/index.html
Details in Tokrisna (2000).
There were a number of socio-economic studies on small scale fisheries undertaken
by NGOS. For examples the study on adverse impact of push net by Southern
Coastal Resource Management Project and Federation of Southern Artisanal
Fishermen (2000), trawl and Thai sea crisis by Southern Coastal Resource
Management Project (2001), Songkhla Lake fisheries by Southern Coastal Resource
Management Project (2002 and 2003), and community based natural resource
management by Project of Coastal Zone management through Community
Organization and Networks in Southern Thailand: Thai NGO-COD and DANCED
partnership (2002). These studies focused on the problems of artisanal fisheries in
Participation of poor people in economic growth activities, policymaking and
implement had been encouraged through NGO support on strengthening capacity and
networking fishing community organization. Academicians could provide the
support on technical studies, being information for policy makers. There had been
effort on social and economic studies.
Nevertheless efficient coastal fishery management, beside indigenous knowledge,
required technical information on management scheme. Limited effort had been on
biological and bio-economic studies.
For poverty eradication, too little attention had been on the coastal poor. There
should be studies on poverty status, cause and reduction in uplifting living conditions
for coastal poor.
Important areas for future policy development, a linkage between fisheries, economic
growth and poverty reduction could be capacity strengthening in fishery resource
management, post harvesting handling, value added processing, marketing of fishery
products on the basis of pro-poor development strategies.
Constraints on artisanal pro-poor fisheries development could be the lack of co-
ordination of among relevant agencies, the budget, capacity of human resources, and
REFERENCES AND ADDITIONAL READING
Dejboon, W. (1998). Economics of Large Scale Push Net fisheries Management in
Lower South, the Gulf of Thailand; A Case Study of Changwat Pattani, Graduate
School, Kasetsart University, Bangkok. (In Thai).
Fisheries Statistical Research and Statistical Group. (2000). Fisheries Statistics of
Thailand 2000, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives,
National Social Economic Development Board. (2003). Factor Analysis of Rural
Poverty and Development Problems, Mimeo., In Thai.