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Fishing boats left unused, fishermen suffer big losses

While bank debts for building ships are still hanging over fishermen’s heads, new difficulties are causing more serious burdens for them.

Do Duc Toan, 37, with a sunburnt, sad face, told reporters that his fishing boat has been ashore for 1.5 months and he doesn’t know when he can leave for the open sea.

Toan said in Tam Quang commune in Nui Thanh district in Quang Nam province, most people consider the sea as their second home.

In 2018, he borrowed VND1.2 billion from a bank to build a new ship, valued at VND2.5 billion, for offshore fishing.

In recent months, the fuel price has been increasing, so the cost for each trip has increased sharply while fishing output has remained unchanged.

In general, Toan has to spend VND110 million on each trip to the sea, including VND8 million for ice to keep fish frozen, VND90 million for three tons of diesel, and expenses for food and other items.

“The cost for each trip has increased too quickly. The more I fish, the bigger losses I incur. So I had to leave the fishing boat ashore,” Toan said. “My wife just does sewing with modest income. There's a heap of difficulties."

Leaving the ship ashore, Toan suffers constant anxiety about his bank debt of VND850 million. 

To earn a living, the 37-year-old has to repair small boats and fish near shore.

Tran Van My, 47, in Nai Hien Dong ward in Son Tra district, the owner of DNa 90442 boat, is in the same situation. His boat has been idle for the last two months because of fuel price increases and the lack of skilled workers.

According to My, since the day the fuel price began rising, every 10-day trip has cost him an additional VND40 million.

“My latest trip to the sea was 2 months ago which lasted one week and cost me VND60 million. However, the total caught seafood was worth only VND20 million, so I took a loss,” he said.

“The expenses for fuel are on the increase, while output is low and the selling prices are not high,” he said.

“There is no other choice for fishermen these days than to stay ashore,” he said. “The more we fish, the bigger losses we incur."

He said most fishing boats have been ashore for months because of the fuel price increase.

“We have to wait until the end of July or early August. If there are fish and if fuel prices decrease, will we go to sea again,” he said. 


Nghe An has 104 fishing ships in the province, including 90 wooden-hull 9 steel-hull and 5 composite-hull ships, built under the policy that supports fishermen to practice offshore fishing stipulated in Decree 67. The total capital disbursed under the program has reached VND860 billion.

One of the first fishermen who built ships under the program is Phung Ba Thu, 48, in Nghi Thuy ward in Cua Lo town.

Thu said in 2017 he had to mortgage his land and house and borrow VND11.2 billion from a bank to build a steel-hull ship with the capacity of 830 horsepower worth VND12.3 billion.

The ship is big, so fuel consumption is high. While expenses are high, the output is small. Two years ago, Thu had to spend VND180-200 million on fuel for each trip to the sea, and the figure has soared to VND300 million. The fishing ground is getting exhausted and fish output is not enough to cover expenses. 

Thu decided to lease the ship to a fisherman in NinhThuan province. After five years of ship building, Thu incurred a loss of VND8 billion and doesn’t know when he can pay all of the debt.

Leading reporters to Cua Lo Port and pointing to a ship, Thu said it was the vessel of a fisherman which has been ashore for two years. 

“Its owner is deeply in debt,” Thu said.

Tran Van Luong, 52, who has two 1,300 horsepower ships worth VND15 billion, said he has never seen such difficulties before. In 2014, the fuel price once soared by VND3,000 per liter, but output was large which covered expenses. But now things are different.

“A fishery crisis is certain,” he said.

Quoc Huy - Cong Sang


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