Tran Van Binh, a 46-year-old fisherman in Da Nang City's Tho Quang Ward reads legal documents on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. VNA/VNS Photo Quoc Dung

The EC's "yellow card" warning has seriously affected the Vietnamese seafood industry and the livelihoods of fishermen around the country, he told a conference between the National Steering Committee on Combating IUU Fishing and 28 coastal localities nationwide.

Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh said it was necessary to identify the causes of the illegal fishing trade as well as propose solutions for it.

On October 23, 2017, the EC issued a “yellow card” warning against seafood caught by Vietnam and exported to the EU. The EC has paid two visits to Vietnam since then and made four groups of recommendations the country needs to implement in order to have the “yellow card” lifted.

The EC’s visits to Vietnam have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has sent 10 teams to inspect the implementation of their recommendations and the results have been forwarded to the EC.

At the end of June, more than 26,910 fishing vessels, with a length of 15 metres or more, had been installed with cruise monitoring equipment (VMS) recording their movements on the Fishing Vessel Monitoring System. This accounts for 87 per cent of the total number of vessels that need to be fitted with the devices.

As many as 85,620 fishing vessels have also been marked and identified, accounting for 90.5 per cent of total. Currently, the country has a total of 49 fishing ports that are eligible to grant certification on the traceability of seafood products.

Phung Duc Tien, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the EC appreciated Vietnam's determination and honesty in providing the results of the implementation of the IUU fishing requirements over the past four years.

The country has made remarkable progress, particularly with the construction of a fishing vessel database that connects authorities on both national and local levels, he said.

He proposed a road map for reducing 40 per cent of violating fishing vessels by the end of this year and putting an end to the situation by 2022.

Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army, Lieutenant General Nguyen Trong Binh, said that the Ministry of National Defence had mobilised up to 30 ships and used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to expand their monitoring range. 

According to representatives from Quang Ninh Province, penalties for fishermen who do not accurately record their fishing activities or turn off the cruise monitoring equipment (VMS) on their vessels must be strengthened.

Currently, the fines for illegal fishing in foreign seas are between VND800 million-1 billion (US$34,750-43,438).

Speaking at the conference, Deputy PM Thanh said Vietnam managed to build a legal framework on fishing, including one law, two decrees, 10 circulars and hundreds of guidelines, which help to manage and trace products from the sea to the consumer.

He pointed out overlapping and inappropriate regulations and asked to improve the legal framework and to strictly enforce the law.

Thanh said education on law, among the fishermen, must be enhanced to change their behaviour instead of only focusing on penalising violators.

He assigned the Ministry of Public Security to investigate and handle those who organized illegal fishing in foreign seas.

The ministries, sectors and local authorities needed to allocate more investment to fishing ports and installing VMS systems, he said.

Since 2012, 21 nations have been issued “yellow card” warnings and six other nations have been given red card warnings by the EC. Of those, three have managed to remove the red card and 14 have removed the yellow card.

Source: Vietnam News 

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