Thailand has made progress in tackling illegal and unregulated fishing, according to the European Union. And as a result, the EU withdrew its threat to ban Thai fishing imports into the bloc.

“Today’s decision reverses the first step of a process that could have led to a complete import ban of marine fisheries products into the EU,” Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for environment and fisheries said on January 8.

Vella explained: “Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing damages global fish stocks, but it also hurts the people living from the sea, especially those already vulnerable to poverty.”

As reported by the Reuters news agency, the EU’s so-called “yellow card” on Thai fishing exports has been in place since April 2015 as a warning that the country was not sufficiently addressing the issues.

According to the EU, Thailand amended its fisheries legal framework in line with international law, and improved its monitoring and surveillance systems, including remote monitoring of fishing activities and more robust inspections at port.

What is more, Thailand voted in December to ratify ILO convention 188 – which sets standards of decent work in the fishing industry – becoming the first Asian country to do so.

But important gaps remain, according to Steve Trent, executive director at advocacy group Environmental Justice Foundation.

“We still have concerns about the workers. We need to see that the reforms are durable,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“There is a risk that with the lifting of the yellow card, complacency will set in. We need to see a culture of compliance, and more being done to protect vulnerable workers in the industry,” Trent said.