FLEC: Showcase of Thailand’s Efforts to Enhance Fishermen’s Quality of Life

Strong partnerships have been a driving force behind Thailand’s transition toward becoming IUU free country. Fishermen Life Enhancement Center (FLEC) is among many of the public-private cooperations aiming to tackle human rights issues in Thai fishery industry.

The project was set up in 2016 by five organizations, including the Fish Marketing Organization; Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives; Department of Labour Protection and Welfare; Family Planning Association of Thailand; Stella Maris Centre Songkhla and Charoen Pokphand Foods, to be a neutral party that ensure equal treatment. In addition, it also upgrades living standards of fishermen in Songkhla province, where 20,000 of them are situated.

FLEC provides a “One-Stop Service” for workers in Thai fishery industry and their families, offering education, health improvement programs, skill development courses, translation supports, and religion activities as well as being coordinator between fishermen, particularly migrant workers, and government agencies.

Last year, FLEC offered legal consultant to 38 victims of human trafficking and abuse. Moreover, it also carried out proactive training courses on labour rights and occupational health and safety to migrant workers. Its other service included first aids training and medical kits distribution to 2,000 fishermen from 76 ships.

It also supports their families by giving education opportunity to migrant children in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals No.4 ; Quality Education, offering basic education to about 30 children at the center each year.

The learning program has been very successful, since 12 children of migrant workers were able to continue study at kindergarten and elementary school levels in a local municipal school in Songkhla province last year.

Others family support programs includes family planning course, vegetable growing course, religion study, and etc.

These successful activities help the center to gain recognition and trust from the migrant workers, who spread FLEC’s news via word of mouth to their fellow workers and family members, resulting growing numbers of users each year. The average visiting frequency is at 35 times per month.

Even though, the European Commission already lifted Thailand’s Yellow Card for illegal fishing. The center would like to stress that all relevant parties will need to carry on their works and cooperating even more to eliminate human trafficking, child labour, forced labour and any forms of illegal acts from Thai seafood supply chain for good as well as improving quality of life to all fishermen.

FLEC believes that strong partnership is vital for Thailand in order to move toward and IUU-free country and, therefore, the center is looking to further strengthen the relationship with workers to become “a friend that all workers can trust”.

By Nattaya Petcharat, Project Coordinator at Stella Maris Songkla Center and FLEC’s committee