|A fishing boat is built with the support of a fisherman fund in Quang Nam Province. Enabling fishermen to have better storage facilities and providing more support for offshore fishing is integral to improving seafood quality.— VNA/VNS Photo Doan Huu Trung
HCM CITY (VNS) — The Government should help improve seafood quality by enabling fishermen to have better storage facilities and setting up fishing hubs, and provide more support for offshore fishing, experts said.
Speaking at a seminar held in the southern province of Phu Yen on Sunday, Nguyen Duy Luong, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Farmers Association, said fishermen have low incomes and face many risks since most of their boats are outdated and not ideal for offshore fishing.
More than 8 per cent of fishermen are illiterate while only half have even completed primary education, he said.
Most of them learn their fishing skills from older colleagues generations and on the job, he said.
"Therefore, providing them fishing skills is one of the essential tasks."
There were more than 4,700 accidents involving fishing boats between 2007 and 2012, leaving 427 men dead, 213 missing, and 1,400 injured, according to the Directorate of Fisheries.
More than 60 per cent of the accidents were caused by engine failure, it said.
The country has more than 117,000 fishing boats, but more than two thirds have engines of less than 90 horsepower.
Nguyen Ngoc Oai, deputy head of the directorate, said fisheries authorities manage such a large number of boats but do not have enough rescue forces in case of sudden accidents.
Nguyen Quoc Chinh, chairman of the An Hai Commune Fishery Trade Union based in Quang Ngai Province, said the commune's fishermen know that they have to mainly depend on each other in case of accidents.
"The establishment of fishery trade unions is necessary to link up fishermen for catching fish and rescuing each other."
There are few unions in the country's 28 coastal cities and provinces, he added.
Participants said the Government has had in place support polices, including investment in infrastructure and loans for fishermen to buy boats since 1997.
But they remain inadequate and fishermen continue to face difficulties, they said.
Fishermen are provided loans to buy fishing boats but not provided to equipment and facilities.
Under a Government plan, five fishing hubs will be set up in 2020-30 in Hai Phong and Da Nang and the provinces of Khanh Hoa, Ba Ria- Vung Tau, and Kieng Giang.
The hubs would each have a fishing port, logistics services, processing plants, fish trading floors, and training facilities for fishermen, he said.
Tran Du Lich, head of the HCM City National Assembly Delegation, said the Government should soon set up such a hub in the central region.
He also said fishermen face difficulties in getting bank loans.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam said many fishermen cannot get bank loans because there are no specific regulations for the fisheries sector.
Fishermen can only borrow general loans and they have to mortgage assets.
The ministry would work with banks to enact regulations that would enable lending to fishermen, he promised.
Last year the country's total catch amounted to 2.63 million tonnes of fish and the fisheries sector provided more than 4 million jobs, according to the directorate. —VNS