Vietnam has taken steps to prevent its fishermen from illegally fishing in foreign waters to meet the EC’s yellow card regulations on unidentified origin products.
The fishery sector and authorities of 28 coastal provinces and cities are committed to the goal.
The EC’s yellow card warning is not a sanction on Vietnamese fishing, but a demand for Vietnam to change and develop the fishing sector sustainably and responsibly. Vietnam has made great progress in building new legal frameworks including the issuance of the Fisheries Law, which has taken effect since the beginning of this year.
Vietnamese fishermen are cooperative and responsible
Fisherman La Van Sanh of Hoai Nhon district, Binh Dinh province, harvested 3 tons of tuna during a month-long voyage. Sanh said that since the EC issued a yellow card warning more than a year ago, Vietnamese fishermen have changed their habits. They have to keep a diary of their voyage, with date, time, coordinates, kind of fish caught, and catch volume. Sanh also notes down weather conditions, wind direction, and tide as a reference.
“Seamen must keep a diary. It’s not difficult, but we’re lazy about writing. We have to submit our diary before selling the fish. We keep the diary as a reference for our future trips. If we record specific information about dates, tides, and fish catches, next year we can travel to the same area to fish.” Sanh said.
To manage fishing boats’ departures, dockings, and product origins, localities have opened fishing port supervisory offices consisting of representatives of the border guard, the port’s management board, and the Fisheries Department.
Ha Vien, Director of Phu Yen province’s fishing port management board, said “We’ve worked with the border guards and the provincial Fisheries Department to check documents and equipment. Before departing, fishermen have to submit a diary of their previous trip. When they dock, we check their diary against the kinds of fish and volume of their current catch and issue verification cards.”
Localities and sectors are in charge of preventing illegal fishing in foreign waters. Fishermen are informed of the EC’s recommendations and the 2017 Fisheries Law, which strictly bans fishing in foreign waters.
Ho Quoc Dung, Chairman of the Binh Dinh provincial People’s Committee, said “We deal with violators not by fining them but by informing them that they are violating the law. The process aims to show them their duty and prevent future violations. They are made to understand that their illegal activities harm national prestige and honor. If other countries issue warnings and stop importing our products, who do we sell our products to?”
One way to monitor and prevent illegal fishing in foreign waters is to install surveillance cameras. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has established 3 oversight centers in Binh Dinh, Kien Giang, and Ben Tre province.
Fishing ships over 24m long must carry surveillance cameras connected to an oversight center on the mainland. After 2020 all fishing boats over 15m long must have surveillance cameras. The cameras transmit data to the mainland center every 2 hours.
Nguyen Tang Binh, Vice Chairman of the Quang Ngai provincial People’s Committee, said “Illegal fishing boats will not receive incentives and will be punished at the highest level of government Decree 103: revoking working license and certificate of the captain in certain period. If they commit a second offence, their license and certificate will be revoked permanently and they will not be allowed to buy or build a new ship.”
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development issued 4,590 certificates for aquatic-materials and 75,000 tons of aquatic-products were exported to the EU last year. No Vietnamese fishing boat violated the waters of Pacific island states. VOV5
After learning about regulations of the European Commission’s yellow card on illegal, most of fishermen in the central region have obeyed regulations on offshore fishing.
The EC has rescheduled a visit to Vietnam for November to review the country’s efforts to have the restrictive yellow card on its seafood products removed, instead of visiting in June as previously planned.
The European Commission has yet to finalize a specific date for reconsidering the lifting of a yellow card it had previously imposed on Vietnam's seafood products, said a representative of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers.