It has been said that it is unsafe to eat anything these days because pork is injected with beta-agonist, chicken is injected with hormone for accelerating growth, fruits are full with chemicals and pesticide, and seafood is contaminated with formalin. All bad effects occurred with consumers. Consumers who consume fish have no ideas on sources of fish and contamination. In the light of manufacturers, they also encounter with the problem on pricing controlled by middlemen. The way of production of artisanal fisheries is affected by commercial fisheries with trawls without classification of fish hindering young fish from growing leading to degenerated marine ecosystem and reduction of sea creatures. In this situation, there is a small seafood restaurant aiming to solve this problem, i.e., Pla Organic restaurant.
Every week, Pla Organic restaurant will select organic seafood from organic fishery system including blue crab from Stun, banana shrimp from Phang-nga gulf, grouper from Krabi, and splendid squid from Pattani. These are small samples of organic seafood that are transported almost 1000 kilometers to Vibhavadi 22 Alley in Bangkok, the location of Pla Organic Restaurant. Besides several kinds of fresh seafood, there are also some processed seafood, for example, dried fish, salted and sweet fish, shrimp paste, dried shrimp, fish crackers, steamed seafood, and outstanding product, i.e., salted threadfin, the king salted fish of Pattani, that is certified by Organic Agriculture Certification Thailand (ACT). All products are specified with Lot Number and source of production. They are also able to be traceable on sources of raw materials.
Therefore, Pla Organic restaurant was established in 2013 started in the form of ‘artisanal fisheries – organic aquaculture” by Earth Net Foundation. In 2015, the restaurant applied for Organic Aquaculture Product Certification for fisheries from natural sources from Organic Agriculture Certification Thailand (ACT) that is a certification agency that is certified on standards and certification from many organizations in Thailand and other countries. The certification criteria are that all products must be made of sea creatures caught from natural sources with safety from pollution caused by industries, agriculture, or other activities causing marine pollution. These products must be traceable on fishermen and sources of fisheries. These products must be free from chemicals in all procedures started from fishing to care taking after fishing, and transportation. Importantly, fisheries must be performed through methods with natural and environmental responsibility, for example, fisheries with nets with large mesh size, avoiding fishing young fish or sea creatures with eggs outside their shells
Artisanal Fisheries – Organic Aquaculture Project was operated under the major objective to promote value of artisanal fisheries to be known in Thai society including quality and safe food production through sustainable and eco-friendly fisheries. It has also played the important roles in coastal resources conservation for sustainability. This project was also operated to encourage people, including consumers and tourists, to participate in driving establishment of the policy on sustainable marine and coastal resources. Currently, this project is developed to registration as Pla Organic Social Enterprise Company Limited or Pla Organic Restaurant with 90% of owners who are fishermen from 7 areas in Phetchaburi, Songkhla, Phattalung, Pattani, Phang-nga, Krabi, and Stun, that assemble as Pla Organic Network under the cooperation with Earth Net Foundation.
Pla Organic Social Enterprise Company Limited or Pla Organic Restaurant has 4 major principles on business operation. Firstly, most owners must be villagers. Secondly, the company would like to communicate with public to make them understand on the way of artisanal fisheries and sustainable use of resources. Thirdly, the company emphasizes on selling safe seafood to consumers. Finally, the company will use fair system for manufacturers and consumers. The business model of Pla Organic Restaurant is not complex, i.e., they have just attached to the objective on generating more profits for villagers. It can be easily explained that 70% - 80% of selling price will be shared to fishermen and community fund for welfares, restoration, returns, and dividend of members. This amount of money is also spared as the fund for developing community and education of children in the future.
In the event that anyone interested in pre-ordering good seafood, you are able to see more details via: Pla Organic Network. Pla Organic restaurant will coordinate with 7 areas in order to check seasonal products and post advertisements for selling those products on this Facebook Fan Page. From Monday – Wednesday, the restaurant will provide some opportunities to customers for pre-ordering seafood that will be transported by public coach buses and customers can receive such seafood at Pla Organic restaurant or via delivery of privet service providers based on their convenience.
Determination to build supportive food route is not only monetary expectation but Organic Fish restaurant also believes in support of all parties. Thing they used for indicating success is good things occurred in the areas making people realize that what they have tried gives good benefits. The important example is that one of members from the southern border area, i.e., artisanal fishery group of Pattani consisted of over 80,000 villagers from 52 villages with artisanal fisheries. Formerly, they did not only encounter with the problem on selling seafood due to insurgency, their products are also undersold by some middlemen and affected by using trawl and commercial fishing boats. Consequently, coastal resources were degenerated with reduction of sea creatures. This problem has been encountered by communities of artisanal fisheries for over than 30 years. However, with consecutive effort to conserve and restore resources, nature could be restored can be restored finally.
However, there is a question why they were still poor when resources were already restored. When they mutually analyzed to find the cause, it was found that fishermen of artisanal fisheries could catch more sea creatures but the product price is not increased and lower by middlemen plus with higher production cost. Therefore, they mutually cooperate to find the way to improve their quality of life leading to seafood processing for increasing product value, i.e., salted threadfin, salted king mackerel, shrimp paste, and fish crackers. Knowledge from local wisdom of old people were collected to be experimented and developed consecutively. Some women whose husbands were dead from insurgency can earn more income from 10 baht per day as the wage for sorting anchovies to be 300-400 baht per day when they have some opportunities to work for processing seafood, filleting fish, and making salted fish. However, besides the problem on poverty and fair price, the key thing obtained by fishermen of artisanal fisheries in Pattani is not only price mechanism but it is also the feeling that:
“They are also worthy and a part of Thai society. With being Malayu-Muslim with different languages and cultures, they will feel different from Bangkok’s society. Therefore, after participating in this project and receiving good feedback that their fish is good, they are proud that they are a part of this society.”