Removing the European Commission’s illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing “yellow card” is no easy task and cannot be done overnight,
but the Vietnamese business community and associations are still determined to succeed, not only to meet the commission’s requirements but also for the sake of sustainable fisheries development.
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, IUU fishing is found in all types of fisheries. It occurs both on the high seas and in areas within national jurisdictions, concerns all aspects and stages of the capture and processing of fish, and may sometimes be associated with organised crime. Fisheries resources available to bona-fide fishermen are stolen by IUU fishing, which can lead to the collapse of local fisheries industries, with small-scale fisheries in developing countries proving particularly vulnerable. Products derived from IUU fishing can find their way into overseas markets, thus throttling local food supplies. Such fishing can therefore threaten livelihoods, exacerbate poverty, and augment food insecurity.
Vietnam, just like any coastal country, is challenged by IUU fishing due to a number of reasons, from an incomplete legal framework for protecting marine resources to a lack of communications campaigns to raise people’s awareness. The prolonged situation resulted in a “yellow card” being imposed in October 2017 by the EC on Vietnamese seafood exported to the market, which has adversely affected Vietnam’s seafood industry.
Seeing how damaging the “yellow card” is to the fisheries industry, the Vietnamese Government has introduced strict measures to tackle IUU fishing.
Specifically, sentences of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to 5 billion VND (220,000 USD) now await captains, fishermen, and boat owners who conduct IUU fishing.
The strict sanctions were included in the revised Law on Fisheries approved by the National Assembly on November 21, 2017.
Two years later, in 2019, a National Steering Committee on Preventing IUU Fishing was established.
Relevant ministries, agencies, and localities have conducted frequent surveillance on fishing activities and communications works to improve fishermen’s awareness about the consequences of IUU fishing. Localities have also built a database on the fisheries industry. Communications on raising awareness among fishermen and captains about adhering to recommendations by the EC against IUU fishing have been intensified in recent times.
Vietnam has participated in the Straddling Fish Stocks Agreement from the UN and the Agreement on Port State Measures from the FAO. Joining these agreements has greatly facilitated its cooperation with other countries and international organisations in examining and monitoring fishing vessels and illegally exploited fisheries products and materials imported into Vietnam before being re-exported to a third country.
The country has held several discussions and negotiations with the EC on its implementation of the organisation’s recommendations against IUU fishing. Its efforts won praise from the EC.
The achievements are attributed to the efforts of authorities at all levels, relevant associations, enterprises, and people. By sustaining such efforts, Vietnam expects to have the EC’s yellow card removed as soon as possible./.VNA