International Fish Trade-Related Issues

Southeast Asian Trade in Fish and Fishery Products

The Southeast Asian countries have already secured a niche in the global market for their fish and fishery products, contributing about 14% to the world’s total exportation of fish and fishery products in 2015 in quantity and value, and a little less than 40% to the total exportation from Asia, also in terms of quantity and value. Viet Nam, Thailand and Indonesia had remained the Southeast Asian region’s highest exporters of fish and fishery products during the past five years or so. In fact, in 2014, Viet Nam and Thailand ranked as the world’s third and fourth highest exporters, respectively. The efforts made by the Southeast Asian countries to improve their respective fisheries management policies and regulations towards sustainability have greatly contributed to this success. Such initiatives also enabled the countries to comply with the requirements of importing countries. SEAFDEC will continue to assist the Southeast Asian countries in these endeavors in order that the growth of the region’s exportation of fish and fishery products would remain positive in the future. The information provided in this webpage is meant to keep the Southeast Asian countries abreast of the developments in the international trading arena of fish and fishery products, to be able to cope with the downsides that challenge the fisheries industry.

International Fish Trade-related Issues

Considering that large volumes of the fishery production from several Southeast Asia countries are now targeted for the international markets (including intra-regional), several international fisheries-related issues need to be addressed as these could have implications and impacts on the competitiveness of the region’s fish and fishery products in these markets. Such issues could include:

1. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is considered one of the greatest threats to the marine ecosystems due to its potent ability to undermine not only the national and regional efforts to manage fisheries sustainably but also all endeavors to conserve the marine biodiversity. With a view to combating IUU fishing, FAO developed the “International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU),” which was adopted during the Twenty-fourth Session of COFI in March 2001, and was subsequently endorsed by the One Hundred-twentieth Session of the FAO Council in June 2001. Although a voluntary instrument, the IPOA-IUU applies to all States and entities as well as to all fishers, and provides the principles and the implementation measures to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing that focus on the State responsibilities, flag State responsibilities, coastal State measures, port State measures, internationally agreed market-related measures, and on the corresponding roles of research and regional fisheries management organizations.

In response to the need to combat IUU fishing and in line with the provisions stipulated in the IPOA-IUU, several Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) and countries importing fish and fishery products issued during the past decade, directives to ensure that products derived from IUU fishing could not be brought into the supply chain, e.g. the RFMOs’ catch documentation schemes, the Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 of 29 September 2008 establishing a community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; the U.S. Presidential Task Force on Combating IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud; and the recent Japan Act on Ensuring the Proper Domestic Distribution and Importation of Specified Aquatic Animals and Plants which was issued on 11 December 2020 and entered into force on 1 December 2022, among others.

Port States Measures (PSM) is another initiative that aims to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing. The Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) is the first legally-binding instrument specifically targeted at combating IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using ports and landing their catches, reducing the incentives of such vessels to continue operating and blocks fishery products derived from IUU fishing from reaching national and international markets. Approved by the FAO Conference at its Thirty-sixth Session in November 2009, the PSMA has now been ratified by 56 States making it entered into force on 5 June 2016. SEAFDEC Members that are Parties to the PSMA include Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

Another new guidelines recently adopted by the Thirty-fifth Session of the FAO/COFI in 2022 is the “Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment” with the objective to assist States, RFMOs, and other intergovernmental organizations when developing new transshipment regulations, revising existing regulations, and integrating these within the broader regulatory framework for sustainable fisheries management.

1.1 SEAFDEC initiatives to address IUU fishing

While promoting sustainable fisheries and developing measures for combating IUU fishing in Southeast Asia, SEAFDEC also compiles information on the trade of fish and fishery products from the Southeast Asian countries. The overall regional framework towards combating IUU fishing through the adoption of the “ASEAN Guidelines for Preventing the Entry of Fish and Fishery Products from IUU Fishing Activities into the Supply Chain,” had been recognized by the SEAFDEC Council and subsequently by the ASEAN Ministers in 2015. Parallel activities have been undertaken by SEAFDEC to come up with supportive tools, such as the database on Regional Fishing Vessels Record (RFVR) starting with vessels 24 meters in length and over that aims to facilitate the checking of fishing vessels registered under the ASEAN Member States (AMSs); and the ASEAN Catch Documentation Scheme (ACDS) that promotes the application of traceability system from catch to market or exportation. Furthermore, regional cooperation and capacity building activities have also been strengthened by SEAFDEC to support the implementation of Port State Measures, as well as the PSMA. Establishment of MCS networks among countries had been encouraged; while the Regional Plan of Action for Management of Fishing Capacity (RPOA-Capacity) was developed and endorsed by the ASEAN.

The “High-level Consultation on Regional Cooperation in Sustainable Fisheries Development Towards the ASEAN Economic Community: Combating IUU Fishing and Enhancing the Competitiveness of ASEAN Fish and Fishery Products” organized by SEAFDEC in August 2016 came up with the “ASEAN-SEAFDEC Joint Declaration on Combating IUU Fishing and Enhancing the Competitiveness of ASEAN Fish and Fishery Products.” The adoption of the Joint Declaration by the representatives from the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Member Countries during the High-level Consultation, demonstrated the willingness of the AMSs to combat IUU fishing in their respective waters and enhance the competitiveness of their fish and fishery products bound for the world market.

Furthermore, in response to the request over the years of the countries around the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, SEAFDEC initiated bilateral dialogues between neighboring countries in these two sub-regions with a view to facilitate discussion and seek cooperation on fisheries-related issues including combating IUU fishing, and the possibility of establishing sub-regional network for monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) with main emphasis on sharing of information on monitoring and control between countries. All of these are meant to support national efforts to mitigate IUU fishing activities in the Southeast Asian region as well as respond to the concerns of importing countries in Europe and the U.S., and certify the legal status of fish and fisheries products traded by the AMSs.

2. Listing of Commercially Exploited Aquatic Species (CEAS) into the CITES Appendices

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement among governments which was entered into force on 1 July 1975, ensures that the international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. A set of criteria and guidelines had been developed to assist the evaluation of whether or not a species should be listed under different Appendices of CITES.

Appendices I, II and III to the Convention are lists of species afforded different levels or types of protection from over-exploitation.

Appendix I lists the species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants. Threatened with extinction, specimens of these species are not allowed for international trade except when trading is not meant for commercial purpose, for instance for scientific research. In these exceptional cases, trade may take place provided it is authorized by the granting of both an import permit and an export permit (or re-export certificate).

Appendix II lists the species that are not now necessarily threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled. It also includes the so-called “look-alike species” for conservation reasons, i.e. species whose specimens being traded look like those of the species listed. International trade in specimens of Appendix II species may be authorized by the granting of an export permit or re-export certificate. No import permit is necessary for these species under CITES (although a permit is needed in some countries that have taken stricter measures than that required by CITES). Permits or certificates should only be granted if the relevant authorities are satisfied that certain conditions are met, above all that trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.

Appendix III is a list of species included at the request of a Party that already regulates trade in the species and needs the cooperation of other countries to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation. International trade in specimens of species listed in this Appendix is allowed only on presentation of the appropriate permits or certificates. Species may be added to or removed from Appendix I and II, or moved between them, only by the Conference of the Parties, either at its regular meetings or by postal procedures. But species may be added to or removed from Appendix III at any time and by any Party unilaterally (although the Conference of the Parties has recommended that changes be timed to coincide with amendments to Appendices I and II).


The CITES Appendices, as of January 2023, include approximately 100 commercially-exploited aquatic species of fish, mollusks and echinoderms, including among others:

Species Listed
Carcharhinidae spp. 2022 II
Hammerhead shark, Sphyrnidae spp. 2022 II
Freshwater stingray, Potamotrygon albimaculata, P. henlei, P. jabuti, P. leopoldi, P. marquesi, P. signata, and P. wallacei 2022 II
Guitarfish, Rhinobatidae spp. 2022 II
Sea cucumber, Thelenota spp. 2022 II
Zebra pleco, Hypancistrus zebra 2022 II
Mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus 2019 II
Mako sharks, Isurus paucus 2019 II
Guitar fishes, Glaucostegus spp. 2019 II
Wedgefishes, Rhinidae spp. 2019 II
Teatfish (Holothuria spp.) Holothuria fuscogiva, H. nobilis, and H. whitmaei 2019 II
Silky shark, Carcharhinus falciformis 2016 II
Thresher sharks, Alopias spp. 2016 II
Devil rays, Mobula spp. 2016 II
Clarion angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensi 2016 II
Nautilus, Nautilidae spp. 2016 II
Scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini 2014 II
Great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran 2014 II
Smooth hammerhead shark, Sphyrna zygaena 2014 II
Oceanic whitetip shark, Carcharhinus longimanus 2014 II
Porbeagle shark, Lamna nasus 2014 II
Manta rays, Manta spp. 2014 II
European eel, Anguilla anguilla 2007 II
Sawfishes, Pristidae 2007 I, apart from 1 species in II
Humphead (Napoleon) wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus 2004 II
Mediterranean date mussel, Lithophaga lithophaga 2004 II
White shark, Carcharodon carcharias 2004 II
Sea cucumber, Isostichopus fuscus 2003 III
Basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus 2002 II
Pipefishes and seahorses, Hippocampus spp. 2002 II
Whale shark, Rhincodon typus 2002 II
Sturgeons and paddlefish, Acipenseriformes 1997 II, apart from 2 species in I
Caribbean queen conch, Strombus gigas 1994 II
Stony corals, Scleratinia 1990 II
Giant clams, Tridacnidae 1983 II
Arapaima, Arapaima gigas 1975 II

The updated information on species listed in the CITES Appendices could be checked from

2.1 SEAFDEC Initiatives to address CITES-related issues:

The proposed listing of commercially exploited aquatic species (CEAS) into the CITES Appendices is one of the crucial issues that could impact not only on the management of fisheries but also on the economies of the countries in the region. Such impacts are anticipated not only as a result of regulation in trade of the species being listed into the CITES Appendices, but also in the trade of look-alike species, as well as trade in parts or processed forms of the species. The listing of species into the CITES Appendices could therefore result in the termination of data collection on the production of these species, leading to the unavailability of data and information on the status of the species after being listed. Furthermore, difficulties could also be encountered in proposing to delist or down-list the species once these are listed in the CITES Appendices.

At the 32nd Meeting of the SEAFDEC Program Committee in 2000, SEAFDEC was asked to carefully give consideration on the proposed listing of CEAS into the Appendices of the CITES. In response, SEAFDEC has initiated the implementation of the program “Assistance of Capacity Building in the Region to Address International Fish-Trade Related Issues” under the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Strategic Partnership mechanism.

Since then, SEAFDEC has conducted a series of fora to facilitate regional discussions and development of common/coordinated positions among countries in the Southeast Asian region on the proposals to list certain aquatic species into the CITES Appendices. SEAFDEC has also been undertaking technical activities on the conservation and management as well as on the sustainable utilization of various aquatic species that could be proposed for listing in the Appendices, e.g. sharks and rays, seahorses, sea cucumbers, sea turtles and, catadromous eels. These activities aim to come up with data and information on the status and trends of the production and utilization of these species, as well as the existing conservation and management measures undertaken by countries in the region. The information compiled would serve as basis for discussions on the proposed listing of the species into the CITES Appendices. Furthermore, with funding support from the CITES-EU, SEAFDEC has been undertaking since 2016 the project that would support improvement of data collection specifically for recording of sharks and rays at species level, and also support capacity building in the development of Non-Detriment Findings (NDFs) for the conduct of scientific reviews that would justify as to whether or not trade endangers the species.

The most recent activities conducted by SEAFDEC to facilitate sharing of information and development of positions of the ASEAN-SEAFDEC countries in preparation for the CoP19 CITES was the “Regional Technical Consultation (RTC) on Development of the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Common Positions on the Proposed Listing of Commercially-exploited Aquatic Species (CEAS) into the CITES Appendices” on 30 August–1 September 2022, in Bangkok, Thailand, where six (6) proposals of the inclusion of CEAS into the CITES Appendices were discussed. While the results of the said RTC in 2022 indicated that the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Member Countries have no common positions to support nor not to support the proposals, SEAFDEC reported the outcomes to the SEAFDEC Council ad referendum and through ASEAN mechanism for notification.

3. Fisheries Subsidies

Based on the FAO State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018, the fraction of marine fish stocks fished within biologically sustainable levels has exhibited a decreasing trend, from 90.0 percent in 1974 to 66.9 percent in 2015. Nevertheless, throughout the past decades, governments around the world has provided billions, and by some accounts, tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to the fisheries sector. These include subsidies to capital and operating costs, which numerous analyses point to as having the potential to contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and thus to unsustainable fishing practices.

3.1 WTO Negotiations on Fisheries Subsidies

Since 2001, the World Trade Organization (WTO) launched at the Doha Ministerial Conference the first of a series of negotiations on fisheries subsidies, with a mandate of “clarifying and improving” the existing WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies. The WTO’s fisheries subsidies negotiations have had sustainability concerns as their core focus. During the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in 2005, the mandate of WTO was enhanced to include the call for prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. While the WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies had been particularly active during the period 2005-2011, Until late 2016, a series of new proposals from the members submitted at the Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference (MC11) in 2017, the MC11 agreed that discussions on fisheries subsidies should be continued, to meet the Target 6 of the SDG14 “by 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and eliminate subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing, and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiation,” and expected to be concluded by 2019. The process had however been prolonged due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies was finally adopted at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) on 17 June 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland. For the Agreement to become operational, two-thirds of members have to deposit their “instruments of acceptance” with the WTO.

3.2 SEAFDEC initiatives in relation to fisheries subsidies

SEAFDEC also provides a number of platforms for the Southeast Asian countries to discuss and come up with harmonized approaches toward the issue on fisheries subsidies for example, the “Regional Technical Consultation (RTC) on International Fisheries-related Issues” on 20-22 June 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand, included discussions on fisheries subsidies. Subsequently, in September 2020, SEAFDEC organized the first “Webinar on “Fisheries Subsidies: Southeast Asian Region Perspective” in order to obtain updated information on the status of the negotiations from key relevant agencies/countries, such as FAO, WTO, IISD, as well as the representative from SEAFDEC Member Countries. This webinar also provided a venue for discussion among SEAFDEC Member Countries to share their experiences and identified issues and needs for appropriately addressing the relevant concerns. As a result, the concerns include identification of difficulties for SEAFDEC Member Countries to determine overcapacity, overfishing and overfished stocks due to the lack of reference points to be used for determining the level of overcapacity, overfishing and overfished; insufficient data and information to support stock assessment program, and technical knowledge on fish stock status. During the Webinar, the MCs also provided the views on the needs on capacity building for stock assessment. Considering that characteristics of marine capture fisheries in Southeast Asia is complex and diverse, and involves multi-species and multi-gears, various methodologies on stock assessment had been trialed in determining the status of stocks of commercially exploited aquatic species. However, challenges for our region are limitation of time-series data and human resources on appropriate stock assessment model. In this connection, SEAFDEC was requested to collaborate with FAO and relevant experts on the development of the capacity building programs on stock assessment to enhance the knowledge, and identify the reference points (e.g. overcapacity, overfishing) for better understanding stock status, and development of an appropriate model to be applied by SEAFDEC Member Countries on multi-species stock assessment. This would be beneficial for the SEAFDEC Member Countries in the negotiation process with the WTO on fisheries subsidies.

At the 53rd Meeting of SEAFDEC Council in 2021, the Council suggested SEAFDEC to facilitate the platform for the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Member Countries to exchange update information and develop the common voice/opinion among the Member Countries to be reflected during the forthcoming WTO negotiations. In June 2021, SEAFDEC organized the “Webinar Series on WTO Fisheries Subsidies Draft Consolidated Text (Negotiation Group on Rules)” on 10 and 17 June 2021 with funding support from the Japanese Trust Fund. The Webinar Series was convened in two sessions. During such Webinar Series, the discussion focused on the “Fisheries Subsidies Draft Consolidated Chair Text, TN/RL/W/276 dated 11 May 2021,” from which the issues of concern of the SEAFDEC Member Countries were identified corresponding to every article of the Chair Text. Although the Webinar Series intended to come up with common position among the SEAFDEC Member Countries, development of such common position was challenging due to the diverse views and positions expressed by the countries.

In addition, the request was made by the SEAFDEC Council during its meeting in 2021, on the needs for the capacity building program on stock assessment for multi-gears and multi-species and how to determine the reference points for sustainable management of fisheries resources, SEAFDEC with funding support from the Japanese Trust Fund (JTF), in collaboration with FAO co-organized two (2) “Training Workshops on Stock Assessment in Support the Implementation of the International Commitments for Sustainable Use of Fisheries Resources in Southeast Asia,” on 13–17 December 2021 and 29 August–6 September 2022 through hybrid format, which was attended by twenty national officers from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam and instructors from FAO, USA and Mexico. The participants gained knowledge on a wide range of stock assessment tools and methods for determination of current population size and level of fishing in Southeast Asian fisheries compared to the levels expected to result in Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) such as length-based stock production ratio (LBSPR), surplus production model, yield per recruit, productivity susceptibility analysis; and learned how to analyze and interpret the results of the assessment, and developed science-based management advice for management plans towards sustainable utilization of fisheries resources.

4. Labor in the Southeast Asia Fishing Industry

The recent official statistics in 2016 indicated that 59.6 million people were engaged in the primary sector of capture fisheries and aquaculture. The statistics also indicated that 85% percent of these people was in Asia. The increasing demand of workers in the fisheries and relevant sectors to serve the expansion of intra-regional and international trade of countries in Southeast Asia, results not only in large numbers of migrant workers getting onboard to seek work opportunities in other countries but also large groups of workforce moving from one country to another. Issues and concerns in fisheries labor have arisen on allegations that the workers receive low wages, their social security is either non-existent or inadequate, they are unskilled in relation to fishing operations, received inadequate training before working onboard fishing vessels, not aware of the requirements for safety at sea, possess fake or no legal documents, subjected to forced labor, child labor, human trafficking, experience poor working conditions and unfair treatment by employers, and that some fishing vessels do not comply with sea safety requirements.

Thus, the labor in fishing industry has recently become one of trade-related issues considering its possible linkage with human trafficking and forced labor in the fisheries sector. The U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons annually issues Report on the Trafficking in Persons or the TIP Report, which divides nations into tiers based on their compliance with the standards outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The inability of countries to resolve the labor issue including human trafficking could result in sanctions on importation of seafood from such countries to major markets, e.g. the European Union and the United States, in the future.

4.1 The ILO C188 Work in Fishing Convention

To provide a global framework for providing fishers and fishing crews decent working conditions onboard fishing vessels, the Work in Fishing Convention (C188) was adopted during the 96th International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2007, and came into force on 16 November 2017.

Targeting all fishers and fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing operations, C188 established the minimum requirements for work on board, conditions of service, accommodation and food, occupational safety and health protection, medical care, and social security. Although C188 is applicable to fishing vessels measuring 24 meters in length and over, the provisions stated in the Convention could also be applied to vessels between 15 and 24 meters in length if a country’s competent authority determines that these are reasonable and practicable. For the Southeast Asian region, although fishing vessels are generally smaller than 24 meters in length, and the C188 is not compulsory for those countries that are yet to ratify it, the national laws of several countries have already been adjusted to accommodate some relevant provisions in C188, such as the minimum age of fishers, fisher’s work agreement, number of hours of work, and so on.

4.2 National Initiatives and Actions undertaken by SEAFDEC

Some Southeast Asian countries have already carried out some revisions of their respective legal frameworks relevant to labor in fisheries:

Philippines: Vessel owners and skippers are required to provide a guarantee that all crew members are to be treated in accordance with Philippine labor laws, before a fishing license is issued for a vessel.
Indonesia: A special Sub Directorate of Fisheries Labour and Manning a Fishing Vessel was established within the Directorate of Fishing Vessel and Fishing Gears under the Directorate General of Capture Fisheries of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, to deal with issues related to labor in the fisheries sector of the country.
Thailand: The Royal Ordinance on Fisheries of 2015 includes labor aspects (Article 11), and the Department of Fisheries (DOF) in cooperation with the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare (DLPW) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) had developed a set of four Good Labour Practice (GLP) Guidelines which is still pending the endorsement by the Government of Thailand.

Some examples of the initiatives carried out in the Southeast Asian region, spearheaded by SEAFDEC:
• Promotion of safety at sea in small fishing vessels. A series of training courses have been conducted in the SEAFDEC Member Countries to promote safety at sea in small fishing vessels. The publication of FAO/ILO/IMO on “Safety Recommendations for Decked Fishing Vessels of Less Than 12 Metres in Length and Undecked Fishing Vessels” was translated into various national languages and promoted in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.

• In 2016, SEAFDEC organized a Regional Technical Consultation on Labor Issues. Discussion was made on the need to strengthen the roles and obligations of the “Receiving State” and the “Sending State,” and that the establishment and implementation of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between countries should be promoted. Moreover, receiving countries should consider developing standard employment contracts and other protection measures, and support the workers through the conduct of specific pre-departure training programs (occupation, language, culture), especially those who intend to work in the fisheries sector while sending countries should provide specific pre-departure training program (occupation, language, culture) for workers who intend to seek employment in the fisheries sector based on the MoU.

• Development of a demonstration boat using the SEAFDEC research vessel “M.V. PLALUNG” with LOA (Length Overall) of 17.5 meters and capacity of 35 GT (Gross tonnage) that complies with C188. The modification includes replacing the existing superstructures to accommodate additional navigation equipment, communication equipment, and enhance the service area (e.g. the galley, sleeping quarter for individual crew members, mess room, and toilet). In addition, the net drum for trawl net operation was installed at the stern deck behind the superstructure to facilitate retrieving of trawl net with the minimal number of fishing crew.

• Modernization of commercial purse seine vessel in Pattani Province, Thailand, by making use of hydraulic equipment. It is expected that the use of hydraulic equipment for hauling of purse seine net could reduce approximately 50% of labor. Nevertheless, this activity is on-going and it is expected that the modernization of such a vessel would be completed by December 2018, while launching for its actual operations is scheduled in January 2019.

Overview on Importation-Exportation

Table 1. Importation of Fish and Fishery Products from the Southeast Asian Countries from 2011 to 2019 by Quantity (MT)

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Brunei Darussalam 15,821 12,338 13,030 12,041 10,797 10,565 9,510 12,310 14,116 10,037 7,729
Cambodia 61,086 32,052 20,292 18,937 24,118 24,482 19,890 26,766 12,564 10,776 6,755
Indonesia 248,933 255,888 248,961 273,093 295,386 206,729 212,981 238,428 266,027 270,450 355,684
Lao PDR 14,759 8,991 5,878 5,465 5,297 570 804 520 363 468 608
Malaysia 575,383 479,769 457,364 431,308 425,901 408,251 424,316 469,716 463,242 417,029 365,460
Myanmar 4,770 8,412 13,847 7,907 5,410 6,542 6,009 7,254 5,414 6,592 6,102
Philippines 513,096 356,792 464,688 473,963 493,535 417,022 384,843 302,917 257,910 268,477 203,682
Singapore 201,570 211,616 204,748 198,175 199,087 209,231 207,868 207,398 209,369 215,681 223,138
Thailand 2,102,164 2,154,434 1,988,143 2,129,606 1,924,537 1,868,170 1,620,659 1,624,879 1,667,820 1,662,766 1,668,020
Viet Nam 609,021 588,008 592,209 546,114 626,474 478,819 431,110 413,326 339,272 330,521 332,027
Total 4,343,603 4,108,300 4,009,160 4,096,609 4,010,542 3,630,381 3,317,990 3,303,514 3,236,097 3,192,797 3,169,205

Source: FAO Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS)

Table 2.Importation of Fish and Fishery Products from the Southeast Asian Countries from 2011 to 2019 by Value (USD 1,000)

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Brunei Darussalam 62,863 50,021 51,057 49,136 43,624 39,853 40,776 46,034 51,417 42,875 32,700
Cambodia 44,605 32,871 31,213 26,991 28,748 20,571 17,363 27,491 15,436 12,739 6,250
Indonesia 467,186 396,541 421,635 423,664 398,007 365,836 318,615 355,529 379,626 358,946 411,209
Lao PDR 15,709 13,814 10,208 7,655 7,846 2,042 3,811 2,347 1,634 1,451 2,072
Malaysia 1,349,744 1,122,053 1,154,374 1,066,537 1,003,884 955,990 948,710 1,134,550 1,070,213 1,071,037 998,720
Myanmar 9,452 17,499 16,097 11,704 9,724 9,147 10,563 15,187 10,944 13,505 13,666
Philippines 647,695 473,549 626,626 605,809 585,047 398,264 369,746 266,158 278,737 263,038 193,314
Singapore 1,107,326 981,098 1,126,942 1,162,525 1,096,665 1,129,644 1,093,000 1,109,339 1,073,334 1,074,992 1,162,463
Thailand 3,842,501 3,743,441 3,774,411 4,068,941 3,669,269 3,179,244 2,616,038 2,840,281 3,238,637 3,205,597 2,788,193
Viet Nam 2,096,044 1,947,428 1,888,515 1,859,331 1,765,991 1,366,351 1,300,954 1,289,819 916,980 837,929 726,215
Total 9,643,125 8,778,315 9,101,078 9,282,293 8,608,805 7,466,942 6,719,576 7,086,735 7,036,958 6,882,109 6,334,802

Source: FAO Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS)

Table 3. Exportation of Fish and Fishery Products from the Southeast Asian Countries from 2011 to 2019 by Quantity (MT)

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Brunei Darussalam 5,202 1,572 2,345 1,505 1,299 892 1,540 1,724 1,497 1,271 730
Cambodia 42,810 38,447 36,957 41,969 37,007 32,201 32,664 31,684 32,000 31,025 30,000
Indonesia 1,200,868 1,243,838 1,164,572 1,108,207 1,062,697 1,041,066 1,049,218 1,235,452 1,225,276 1,216,681 1,100,869
Lao PDR 0.112 19 0.4 6 9 16 52 130 43 119 0
Malaysia 338,930 354,345 298,955 263,616 237,516 296,626 252,748 238,458 246,146 266,469 295,022
Myanmar 387,702 471,852 583,675 568,224 487,886 394,397 338,284 345,247 376,848 387,371 373,898
Philippines 230,843 238,046 216,885 270,879 321,989 234,418 225,190 276,455 317,973 253,838 231,711
Singapore 41,050 37,032 42,439 36,584 39,738 43,757 44,219 35,558 48,189 52,931 57,363
Thailand 1,354,805 1,481,707 1,391,701 1,394,091 1,354,237 1,515,437 1,545,968 1,664,372 1,604,445 1,762,131 1,762,955
Viet Nam 1,720,151 1,548,755 1,814,198 1,717,841 1,823,542 1,665,798 1,596,160 1,714,701 1,524,257 1,409,253 1,373,363
Total 5,322,361 5,415,613 5,551,727 5,402,922 5,365,920 5,224,608 5,086,043 5,543,781 5,376,674 5,381,089 5,225,911

Source: FAO Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS)

Table 4. Exportation of Fish and Fishery Products from the Southeast Asian Countries from 2011 to 2019 by Value (USD 1,000)

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Brunei Darussalam 29,543 7,431 6,172 4,169 5,819 3,057 3,342 4,146 4,311 2,435 1,701
Cambodia 88,934 75,848 75,192 85,306 75,361 65,442 66,046 63,900 62,500 61,020 60,000
Indonesia 5,527,393 5,043,547 4,740,035 4,705,215 4,386,795 4,009,356 3,788,795 4,467,564 4,025,024 3,752,294 3,360,923
Lao PDR 6 44 1 22 45 73 138 355 107 247 0
Malaysia 909,512 863,746 900,446 764,999 720,688 712,732 688,356 866,068 801,685 846,169 916,456
Myanmar 766,667 886,347 728,080 711,717 696,302 561,826 482,237 536,255 652,840 651,129 555,515
Philippines 934,831 834,497 838,146 912,387 883,537 735,786 805,286 1,054,800 1,185,788 850,344 711,155
Singapore 299,109 246,220 316,012 357,504 342,992 365,690 376,654 323,114 339,621 367,196 416,370
Thailand 5,411,785 5,739,224 5,864,824 6,077,436 6,041,469 5,914,988 5,701,788 6,657,459 7,067,700 8,144,920 8,159,613
Viet Nam 9,087,478 8,514,592 8,694,596 8,911,638 8,586,492 7,344,133 6,774,148 8,046,560 6,900,612 6,291,141 6,259,788
Total 23,055,258 22,211,496 22,163,504 22,530,393 21,739,500 19,713,063 18,686,790 22,020,221 21,040,188 20,966,895 20,441,521

Source: FAO Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS)

Producer Price of Capture Fisheries Commodities

The Fishery Statistical Bulletin of Southeast Asia of SEAFDEC has a compilation of producer prices of species from capture fisheries production as shown in the tables below. The producer prices of selected species indicate that the prices could differ among countries due to several factors such as supply and demand, production cost, as well as alternative commodities.

  • 2015 
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020 
  • 2021 
Producer Price in 2015 (USD/kg)

Scientific Name FAO English Name Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Philippines Singapore Thailand
Cyprinus carpio Common carp 2.02 1.96 1.46
Oreochromis niloticus Nile tilapia 1.69 1.71 1.75 1.75
Clarias spp. Torpedo-shaped catfishes nei 1.33 1.57
Anodontostoma chacunda Chacunda gizzard shad 2.14 1.11 0.91
Lates calcarifer Barramundi (Giant seaperch) 5.00 2.09 3.91 7.67 4.17
Caesio spp. Fusillers caesio nei 3.57 1.39 2.24 4.08
Epinephelus spp. Groupers nei 5.71 4.82 8.56 8.47
Nemipterus spp. Threadfin breams nei 3.57 1.33 1.89 2.98 6.61 1.46
Leiognathus spp. Ponyfishes (Slipmouths) 1.43 0.58 0.86 2.07 3.43 0.88
Thunnus tonggol Longtail tuna 1.46 2.04
Thunnus albacares Yellowfin tuna 2.14 2.09 2.14 2.63
Decapterus spp. Scads nei 1.43 0.88 1.36 3.84
Caranx spp. Jacks, crevalles nei 7.14 1.70 3.94 2.43 3.68
Rastrelliger kanagurta Indian mackerel 3.57 1.07 1.96 2.39 1.46
Portunus pelagicus Blue swimming crab 4.29 2.20 3.54 3.17 8.76
Scylla serrata Indo-Pacific swamp crab 3.57 3.21 4.18 5.26
Penaeus merguiensis Banana prawn 7.14 3.78 8.40 7.30
Penaeus monodon Giant tiger prawn 9.29 4.92
Sepiidae/Sepiolodae Cuttlefish, squids nei 1.66 5.05 4.67
Producer Price in 2016 (USD/kg)

Scientific Name FAO English Name Brunei Darussalam Malaysia Philippines Singapore Thailand
Cyprinus carpio Common carp 1.80 1.42
Oreochromis niloticus Nile tilapia 1.88 1.70
Lates calcarifer Barramundi (Giant seaperch) 6.94 3.77 3.97
Caesio spp. Fusillers caesio nei 4.17 1.53 2.69
Epinephelus spp. Groupers nei 5.56 4.80 8.34 7.93
Nemipterus spp. Threadfin breams nei 2.78 1.91 2.94 5.20 1.42
Leiognathus spp. Ponyfishes (Slipmouths) 2.08 0.91 2.04 3.50 0.85
Thunnus tonggol Longtail tuna 2.27
Thunnus albacares Yellowfin tuna 2.08 1.99
Decapterus spp. Scads nei 1.74 1.26 4.02
Caranx spp. Jacks, crevalles nei 5.56 3.94 3.82 1.70
Rastrelliger kanagurta Indian mackerel 3.47 1.92 2.36 1.50
Portunus pelagicus Blue swimming crab 3.47 3.52 3.13
Scylla serrata Indo-Pacific
swamp crab
3.47 4.64 11.40
Penaeus merguiensis Banana prawn 4.17 8.21
Penaeus monodon Giant tiger prawn 11.11 9.42
Loligo spp. Common squids nei 1.39 3.21 4.84 2.83
Producer Price in 2017 (USD/kg)

Scientific Name FAO English Name Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Myanmar Philippines Singapore Thailand
Cyprinus carpio Common carp 1.68 1.93 0.43 1.47
Oreochromis niloticus Nile tilapia 4.74 1.59 2.08 1.47
Channa striata Striped snakehead 1.93 3.54
Lates calcarifer Barramundi (Giant seaperch) 7.30 4.62 0.33 7.28 4.13
Caesio spp. Fusillers caesio nei 1.58 4.61
Epinephelus spp. Groupers nei 10.22 10.22 4.66 4.25 8.70 10.61
Nemipterus spp. Threadfin breams nei 2.21 0.77 3.05 5.20 1.77
Leiognathus spp. Ponyfishes (Slipmouths) 1.03 2.18 3.55 0.88
Thunnus albacares Yellowfin tuna 3.75 2.52
Decapterus spp. Scads nei 1.69 4.82
Caranx spp. Jacks, crevalles nei 7.30 3.22 2.31 4.35
Rastrelliger kanagurta Indian mackerel 2.59 2.41 1.86
Portunus pelagicus Blue swimming crab 4.18 7.37
Scylla serrata Indo-Pacific
swamp crab
4.21 11.46 7.37
Penaeus merguiensis Banana prawn 9.54 9.43
Loligo spp. Common squids nei 3.70 4.93
Producer Price in 2018 (USD/kg)

Scientific Name FAO English Name Brunei Darussalam Malaysia Myanmar Philippines Singapore Thailand
Cyprinus carpio Common carp 2.24 2.34 1.55
Oreochromis niloticus Nile tilapia 2.10 2.20 1.86
Channa striata Striped snakehead 2.93 3.71
Lates calcarifer Barramundi (Giant seaperch) 7.10 4.35 3.08 5.54 4.33
Caesio spp. Fusillers caesio nei 3.80 1.67 3.28 3.09
Epinephelus spp. Groupers nei 5.81 4.29 11.14
Nemipterus spp. Threadfin breams nei 3.81 2.16 1.32 4.81 5.31 1.86
Leiognathus spp. Ponyfishes (Slipmouths) 2.14 0.98 3.97 2.58 0.93
Thunnus albacares Yellowfin tuna 1.58 3.66
Decapterus spp. Scads nei 1.16 1.64 2.98
Caranx spp. Jacks, crevalles nei 2.89 3.19 2.83
Rastrelliger kanagurta Indian mackerel 2.76 3.62 2.17
Portunus pelagicus Blue swimming crab 1.94 9.28
Scylla serrata Indo-Pacific
swamp crab
8.90 7.74
Penaeus merguiensis Banana prawn 6.88 9.90
Loligo spp. Common squids nei 1.71 3.86
Producer Price in 2019 (USD/kg)

Scientific Name FAO English Name Brunei Darussalam Malaysia Myanmar Singapore Thailand
Cyprinus carpio Common carp 2.41 2.11 1.45
Oreochromis niloticus Nile tilapia 2.19 1.32 1.93
Channa striata Striped snakehead 3.29 3.87
Lates calcarifer Barramundi (Giant seaperch) 4.34 5.93 7.52 5.15
Caesio spp. Fusillers caesio nei 1.49 4.40
Epinephelus spp. Groupers nei 4.54 8.30 12.56
Nemipterus spp. Threadfin breams nei 10.37 2.10 1.84 7.18 1.93
Leiognathus spp. Ponyfishes (Slipmouths) 0.97 3.52 0.97
Thunnus albacares Yellowfin tuna 1.41 3.29
Decapterus spp. Scads nei 0.98 1.75 4.04
Caranx spp. Jacks, crevalles nei 4.12 3.45 3.84
Rastrelliger kanagurta Indian mackerel 5.51 2.43 1.25 4.07 2.25
Portunus pelagicus Blue swimming crab 1.99 4.51 11.27
Scylla serrata Indo-Pacific
swamp crab
4.02 12.10 8.05
Penaeus merguiensis Banana prawn 6.54 10.05 10.31
Loligo spp. Common squids nei 1.55 3.75 2.17 5.23
Producer Price in 2020 (USD/kg)

Scientific Name FAO English Name Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Myanmar Singapore Thailand
Cyprinus carpio Common carp 1.86 2.27 2.90 1.60
Oreochromis niloticus Nile tilapia 1.66 2.24 1.45 1.89
Channa striata Striped snakehead 1.65 4.35 4.15
Lates calcarifer Barramundi (Giant seaperch) 5.81 2.59 4.18 4.35 7.88 4.73
Caesio spp. Fusillers caesio nei 4.02 1.54 1.91 4.68
Epinephelus spp. Groupers nei 5.24 4.46 8.72 12.78
Nemipterus spp. Threadfin breams nei 1.94 1.98 2.32 7.53 2.05
Leiognathus spp. Ponyfishes (Slipmouths) 0.74 0.92 3.68 1.66
Thunnus albacares Yellowfin tuna 1.81 2.60 3.21
Decapterus spp. Scads nei 1.00 1.61 4.24
Caranx spp. Jacks, crevalles nei 3.96 2.13 4.38 4.04
Rastrelliger kanagurta Indian mackerel 2.83 1.74 2.19 2.18 2.17
Portunus pelagicus Blue swimming crab 2.88 2.52 4.52 8.95
Scylla serrata Indo-Pacific
swamp crab
4.58 3.69 4.37 12.72 11.18
Penaeus monodon Giant tiger prawn 11.42 3.76
Loligo spp. Common squids nei 1.55 3.54 2.16 5.50
Producer Price in 2021 (USD/kg)

Scientific Name FAO English Name Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Myanmar Singapore Thailand
Cyprinus carpio
Common carp 2.62 2.38 2.40 1.59
Oreochromis niloticus Nile tilapia 1.83 2.45 0.9 1.81
Channa striata Striped snakehead 2.92 3.22
Lates calcarifer Barramundi (Giant seaperch) 7.31 2.44 4.37 3.4 7.40 4.14
Caesio spp. Fusillers caesio nei 4.27 0.81
Epinephelus spp. Groupers nei 6.23 1.95 4.67 8.14 4.85
Nemipterus spp. Threadfin breams nei 1.86 2.17 1.50 7.40 1.27
Leiognathus spp. Ponyfishes (Slipmouths) 0.43 0.98 4.44
Thunnus albacares Yellowfin tuna 1.58 2.96
Decapterus spp. Scads nei 0.86 1.86 3.70
Caranx spp. Jacks, crevalles nei 3.61 3.93 3.85
Rastrelliger kanagurta Indian mackerel 1.68 1.68 2.43 4.14 1.88
Portunus pelagicus Blue swimming crab 1.56 3.62 4.64 5.83
Scylla serrata Indo-Pacific
swamp crab
3.58 3.64 4.89 12.06 6.99
Penaeus monodon Giant tiger prawn 8.81 4.66 7.50 8.77
Loligo spp. Common squids nei 1.22 1.62 3.62 3.20 4.81 5.39

Note: The above tables include only the selected species and producer prices that were reported by more than one country.  For other species, the producer prices could be found in the Fishery Statistical Bulletin of Southeast Asia published annually by SEAFDEC.

Importing Countries' Regulations


The Government of Japan enacted the bill for the “Act on Ensuring the Proper Domestic Distribution and Importation of Specified Aquatic Animals and Plants” at the 203rd Extraordinary Session of the Diet. The Act was promulgated on December 11, 2020, and is scheduled to enter into force on December 1, 2022. Under this Act, Class II Aquatic Animals and Plants (group of aquatic animals and plants designated by the Minister that are particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing by foreign flagged vessels under foreign laws or international conservation and management measures, which needs to be managed under import regulation) shall not be imported into Japan without a catch certificate issued by the competent authority of flag State of the vessel catching Class II to certify that they were caught legally and other document(s) provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Ordinance).

United States

This final action implements the import provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This rule establishes conditions for evaluating a harvesting nation’s regulatory program to address incidental and measures to address intentional mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in fisheries that export fish and fish products to the United States. Under this rule, fish and fish products from fisheries identified by the Assistant Administrator in the List of Foreign Fisheries can only be imported into the United States if the harvesting nation has applied for and received a comparability finding from NMFS. The rule establishes procedures that a harvesting nation must follow and conditions to meet, to receive a comparability finding for a fishery. The rule also establishes provisions for intermediary nations to ensure that intermediary nations do not import, and re-export to the United States, fish or fish products subject to an import prohibition.

The Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) establishes for imports of certain seafood products, the reporting and recordkeeping requirements needed to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU)-caught and/or misrepresented seafood from entering U.S. commerce, providing additional protections for the U.S. national economy, global food security and the sustainability of our shared ocean resources.

European Union

The European Commission’s Directorate- General for Health and Food Safety establishes import conditions for shery products and shell sh (bivalve molluscs). By following these rules non-EU countries can guarantee that their exports of such products fulfil the same high standards as products from the EU Member States – not only with respect to hygiene and consumer safety but, if relevant, also to their animal health status.

The EC Regulation 1005/2008 sets out a European Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing. This system applies to all IUU fishing and associated activities carried out within the territory of Member States, within European Community waters, within maritime waters under the jurisdiction or sovereignty of third countries and on the high seas. These provisions include rules on inspections of third country fishing vessels in European Community member States ports, a catch certification scheme for importation and exportation of fishery products, as well as provisions on identification of fishing vessels engaged in IUU fishing.

The European Commission works to ensure that Europe’s food supply is the safest in the world and that the same standards of food safety apply to all products regardless of origin. As the world’s biggest importer and exporter of foodstuffs, the European Union works closely with international organisations and offers advice as well as assistance to non-EU country trading partners.

Other Resources

Sumaila, U. Rashid, Christophe Bellmann, and Alice Tipping. Fishing for the Future: Trends and Issues in Global Fisheries Trade. E15Initiative. Geneva: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and World Economic Forum, 2014.