|Quảnh Ninh's coast guard hands out leaflets to raise awareness about IUU fishing among fishermen. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Quảng Ninh Province has taken tough measures to fight against IUU (illegal, unreported, and unregulated) fishing, contributing to the national effort to lift the European Commission's (EC) 'yellow card' against Vietnamese fisheries.
Đinh Ngọc Chiến, deputy chairman of Cẩm Phả Municipal People's Committee, claimed that his city has begun to crack down hard on unlawful fishing and aquafarming and keep a closer watch on fishing boats.
Out of 145 ships six-metre-long and above in the city, 123 have registered with the local authority and three have obtained fishing licences. Remarkably, all the ships have committed to food safety standards and the installation of vessel monitoring systems (VMS).
Dương Minh Đại, vice-captain of Squadron Number 2, asserted that his squadron has increased patrols in local waters in accordance with the provincial Directive 18 to curb IUU fishing.
In addition to patrols, some soft measures have been employed, such as the use of communication strategies and educational techniques, to make fishermen aware of the activities prohibited by law and keep them on the straight and narrow.
In fact, the measures appear to be highly effective as well-informed fishermen have begun to tip the squadron off about IUU activities, contributing substantially to the fight against illegal fishing practices.
From January to November, the squadron detected and held 133 ships engaging in IUU fishing, imposing a total fine of over VNĐ1.5 billion.
One noteworthy case involves five ships that used bottom-trawling method to catch fish on November 10. The ships had their illegal catches dumped back into the ocean and faced heavy fines for their violation.
On November 8, three ships got busted for using illegal nets to harvest clams. The squadron ordered the ships to return the clams to the sea and transferred the case to relevant authorities for legal actions.
|Squadron Number 2 inspects a ship in Quảng Ninh's waters. In the first ten months of 2022, the squadron detected and detained 133 ships engaging in IUU fishing. VNA/VNS Photo|
Ship owner Vũ Văn Chuyển asserted that the local efforts at communication and education have substantially raised awareness among fishermen, leading to better fishing practices.
However, some fishermen still turn deaf ears to the authority's warnings. They keep using illegal gear to improve catch, to the severe detriment of marine resources and the aquatic environment.
The provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said with the help of VMS it has successfully detected and redirected many fishing ships heading towards foreign waters.
It has also made a name list of fishing ships that are likely to commit IUU violations and sent the list to patrol forces to keep a check on them.
An inter-sectoral task force has been established to instruct and supervise the implementation of EC's recommendations for IUU fishing prevention in different localities.
"Regular checks on fishing ships and early warnings to fishermen would help avert their unintentional encroachments on foreign waters," said the department.
Given the strict control on fishing, no fishing ships in Quảng Ninh have encroached into foreign waters so far.
Exactly 219 ships fifteen-metre-long and above in Quảng Ninh have been required to have VMS installed onboard. By late October, all the ships were equipped with VMS. They were also granted fishing licences and certified as up-to-food-safety-standard ships.
It is also worth noting that 100 per cent of ships of between 12m and 15m pledged to strictly comply with food safety standards during the same period.
Quảng Ninh Province said in the short term it will work to tackle the issues that are hampering the licence-granting process. Additionally, it will monitor fishing activities at the ten fishing sites specified in the provincial Decision 1412.
It will also establish 10 checkpoints at ports and wharves where fishing ships are subject to regular checks and inspections.
In October, the province announced its plans to expand Cái Rồng Seaport to make way for new facilities at which fishing ships would be monitored and inspected in line with EC's recommendations.
It also developed a plan to implement the governmental Scheme 1077 on IUU fishing and came up with many solutions for IUU prevention, an effort to remove the EC's yellow card against Vietnamese fisheries.
On December 1, Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính chaired a meeting with 28 provincial authorities on IUU fishing.
At the meeting, Quảng Ninh authorities said the province has been the first province in Việt Nam to develop a software package on fishing management. The package is being put in a test run and is expected to begin operation in 2023.
They also said Quảng Ninh has detected 663 IUU fishing cases so far, imposing a total fine of VNĐ5 billion. Remarkably, no fishing ships in the province have encroached into foreign waters to date.
The PM said Việt Nam has made steady progress in the fight against IUU fishing. However, the country still has a long way to go before it can turn sustainable fishing into the main source of livelihood for fishermen. — VNS