Vietnam strengthens efforts towards eliminating EC’s fishing warning

Tuesday, 2018-10-30 07:57:36
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Kien Giang Border Guards provide information on the regulations related to fishing activities for local fishermen. (Photo: Le Sen)
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NDO – Vietnam has stepped up measures to minimise and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, aiming to remove the European Commission (EC)’s “yellow card” warning against Vietnamese aquaculture products.

It is expected that in January 2019, the EC inspection mission will return to Vietnam to evaluate the implementation of the EC's recommendations against IUU fishing. On this basis, the EC will consider removing the “yellow card” warning for Vietnamese seafood.

In order to deal with the issues related to IUU, the Prime Minister issued Directive No. 45/CT-TTg, dated December 13, 2017, on a number of urgent tasks and solutions to remove the EC warning. Several provinces such as Binh Thuan, Tien Giang, Ba Ria - Vung Tau and Ben Tre also issued special resolutions on the IUU, while directing local law enforcement forces at sea to intensify the implementation of measures to manage fishing grounds and prevent Vietnamese fishing vessels from violating the sea areas of countries in the region.

Most localities have issued plans on the inspection and control of fishing activities at sea and at fishing ports. By August 2018, 26 out of 28 coastal provinces and cities had established representative offices for the inspection and control of fisheries in 48 local key ports, while three out of the 28 coastal locales established interdisciplinary working groups. They have directed the fisheries sub-departments and fish ports to implement the issuance of certificates of origin for marine products as regulated.

In Binh Thuan province, in addition to increasing administrative sanctions, fishing vessels violating foreign waters are deprived of their operating licences and removed from the list of recipients of fishing support incentives. Notably, if a ship owner, who owns several different fishing vessels, but one among them violates the regulations, the owner will be deprived of all the benefits for the other vessels.

Khanh Hoa province has also set up four representative offices for inspection and control at fishing ports. Meanwhile, hundreds of patrols on the sea for fishing vessels have been carried out, thus strictly handling any violations that arise. In addition, the province has completed the structure of eight local fishery unions and 70 fishing cooperatives with the participation of more than 620 fishing vessels operating in remote waters, to help fishermen support each other when operating on the sea.

In addition, several coastal provinces in the Mekong Delta have signed and implemented a regulation on the coordination and management of fishing vessel operation.

Although there have been attempts to remove the EC warning, the implementation of the IUU missions remains limited, such as the lack of timely steering and management mechanisms from the central to local level, limited resources (both human and material resources) in the State management system and the enforcement of fisheries laws to ensure the implementation of international regulations on IUU combat, and inadequate investment in fishery infrastructure compared with fishing capacity.

In addition, several localities have not yet seriously implemented the Prime Minister’s directives. Especially after the EC issued its warning against Vietnamese seafood products exported to the European Union (EU) market, the situation of Vietnamese fishing vessels violating foreign waters has not yet been effectively prevented.

The time is short until the deadline in January next year, requiring more efforts in building and completing the Decree guiding the implementation of the Law on Fisheries, the Decree on sanctioning administrative violations in the field of fisheries, and other circulars to ensure the effective enforcement of the Law on Fisheries, which will come into force from the beginning of next year. It is also important to build plans for the implementation of the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) that Vietnam has joined recently, while completing the accession to the 1995 United Nations Straddling Fish Stocks Agreement.

The localities concerned should effectively implement the mechanism of coordination and handling among the marine inspection and control forces when detecting fishing ships in violation of foreign sea areas with drastic measures, such as the withdrawal of permits or not offering new licences to owners of fishing vessels committing violations in foreign sea that lead to an arrest or detection on the cruise tracking system.

It is also essential to regularly identify and update the list of fishing vessels identified as likely to be involved in illegal fishing activities in foreign waters to apply additional measures to strictly control this group, including requiring the installation of cruise control equipment and increasing the frequency of inspection over these ships when at habour.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Finance have been urged to strictly implement coordination mechanisms in order to control aquatic materials being imported into Vietnam by international refrigerated shipping vessels at international traffic ports, while ensuring the implementation of the PSMA and intensifying inspection, examination and control at ports and at sea to strictly handle fishing ships that commit IUU acts.

At meetings with the leaders of the EU member countries on the occasion of the Europe visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, from October 14 to 20, the high-level Vietnamese delegation exchanged measures to promote cooperation in sustainable fishing, in which the EU vowed their support to the efforts from Vietnam to overcome issues related to IUU, towards removing the “yellow card” warning on Vietnamese seafood soon.