|Fishing vessels at An Thoi Port in Kien Giang Province's Phu Quoc Island District. Bank loans should be disbursed more quickly to help fishermen buy modern boats, an official said. — VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khuong
KIEN GIANG (VNS) — The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam has urged the speedier disbursement of bank loans to thousands of fishermen in need of modern boats and cutting-edge technology.
Speaking at a forum on offshore fishing held last week in Rach Gia in Kien Giang Province, Nam said that offshore fishing played an essential role in economic development, helped to protect the country's sovereignty, and created jobs for millions of people.
Viet Nam's fishing industry ranks 20th in the world in output and fourth in exports, but 90 per cent of the vessels are small, made of wood, and have outdated technologies, according to Nam.
Kien Giang Province has one of the country's largest fishing grounds, with more than 63,000sq km.
With 200km of coastline with many islands, the area has favourable conditions for fishing, with an annual output of around 500,000 tonnes, according to Mai Anh Nhin, Deputy Chairman of Kien Giang Province's People's Committee.
But the industry faces poor logistics service, Nhin said.
He said new boats were necessary for the area to become a major fishing centre in the Mekong Delta, as planned by the central Government.
Duong Minh Chuan, Vice Principal of Kien Giang University, pointed out other challenges facing the industry, including poor living standards and unstable incomes of fishermen, poor safety regulations and weak state management.
Also speaking at the forum, Nguyen Xuan Niem, Deputy Director of Kien Giang's Department of Science and Technology, said the use of the latest technologies on boats would bring huge benefits for fishermen.
Speakers at the forum also agreed that it was essential to establish more service companies catering to fishing vessels, especially logistics vessels supplying gasoline, oil, water and rice at sea. This would help fishermen stay offshore for a longer period of time.
About 200 fishermen from the region attended the forum. They spoke about their challenges related to the Government's Decree 67 on incentive policies for fishermen.
Decree 67 permits bank loans to fishermen at lower interest rates and with favourable grace periods. It also promotes infrastructure investment in aquaculture farms.
Under the decree, fishermen are allowed to borrow 90 per cent of the cost for building boats made of metal over 10 years at an interest rate of 3 per cent. Loans for wooden boats can be 70 per cent of building costs.
Although the decree has been implemented for nearly one year, only a few fishermen have accessed preferential loans.
In Kien Giang Province, only one out of 30 fishermen eligible for the loans has been able to take out a loan.
The event was organised by the National Agriculture Promotion Centre in cooperation with the Kien Giang Province's People's Committee. — VNS