Việt Nam strictly punishes illegal fishing activities: Deputy Minister

December 22, 2022 - 07:05
A delegation from the EC will visit Việt Nam next year to assess Việt Nam's anti-IUU fishing measures.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phùng Đức Tiến.

Việt Nam has improved the fishery industry to meet requirements on the European Commission (EC)'s illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing prevention after receiving the "yellow card" warning from the EC five years ago.

A delegation from the EC will visit Việt Nam next year to assess those anti-IUU fishing measures.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phùng Đức Tiến, spoke to Vietnam News Agency about this issue.

What are the problems in the implementation of anti-IUU fishing measures?

In fact, a small number of Vietnamese-flagged fishing vessels still illegally fish in foreign waters. If Việt Nam does not stop this, the EC has confirmed that it would not remove the "yellow card" warning.

Besides that, registration, issuance of fishing licenses, and installation of cruise monitoring equipment (VMS) are also not completed. Fishing vessel data has not been fully updated in the National Fisheries Database (VNFishbase).

Law enforcement and administrative penalties are still weak and lack synchronism. Some localities do not implement anti-IUU fishing measures.

Slowly removing the above limitations is caused not only by the awareness of fishermen but also by the lack of responsibility of some organisations and individuals in carrying out their tasks in the inspection and monitoring of anti-IUU fishing measures.

What strict measures should be taken to end this situation?

First of all, local authorities at all levels must improve their responsibilities in implementing the anti-IUU fishing measures and point out the organisations and individuals that do not fully perform their duties and responsibilities in the fight against IUU fishing.

Localities should quickly calculate the number of fishing vessels, complete the issuance of licences as well as the installation of monitoring equipment, and the update of vessel data into the National Fisheries Database (Vnfishbase) as regulated to meet the requirement of information search and boat management.

Meanwhile, fishing ports should make statistics of all docking places, monitor and supervise all catches to ensure traceability, and strictly handle vessels that do not dock at designated ports.

Coastal provinces and cities shall make a list of fishing vessels that have ever violated foreign waters. They need also to send the list of fishing vessels with no VMS equipment, expired fishing licences, and high risk of violating IUU fishing to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Ministry of Defence for monitoring and management.

The authorities need to use the national Fishing Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) to closely monitor and supervise the activities of local fishing vessels at sea.

They must strictly comply with regulations on the management of VMS equipment installed on fishing vessels, and also strictly handle the fishing vessels that intentionally disconnect VMS equipment on the vessels to the national Fishing Vessel Monitoring System.

Local authorities and the Vietnam Fisheries Association step up communications to raise public awareness of respecting the law.

The Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers and seafood businesses must resolutely refuse to purchase, process and export aquatic products from IUU fishing activities. At the same time, they provide information to the authorities to strictly handle the seafood enterprises supporting IUU fishing activities.

The EC's inspection team is expected to return in April 2023 to assess Viet Nam's implementation of anti-IUU fishing measures. What will MARD, as well as other ministries, sectors and localities, do to get the best results from this inspection?

To gain the best results from the fourth EC inspection, along with the above solutions, from now until April 2023, it is necessary to complete the registration of all fishing vessels, granting of food safety certificates and fishing licences, and installation of VMS equipment, as well as updating fishing vessel data on the National Fisheries Database (VNFishbase).

All fishing vessels with the largest length of 15m or more are only allowed to dock at allocated ports and ensure VMS equipment under operation from fishing vessels leaving port until docked at port. They also must have a diary of fishing according to regulations.

Meanwhile, the software of the system controlling imported fishery will be connected to the National Single Window Portal and control all caught fishery products imported from abroad according to the provisions of the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA).

Along with that, there is a solution to strictly control fishery products imported into Việt Nam by container ships.

Việt Nam will also strictly handle the violations of Vietnamese fishing vessels in foreign countries, and cases of illegal fishing in foreign waters.

MARD will coordinate with other ministries and sectors to launch patrols and inspections, and strictly sanction all IUU fishing activities according to regulations.

At the same time, efforts will be made to investigate and prosecute any cases of brokering and luring fishermen to conduct illegal fishing in foreign waters.

Besides that, MARD is developing the draft of an action plan against IUU fishing activities to submit to the Prime Minister for approval.

With the synchronous and efficient implementation of the existing regulations, Việt Nam will strive to remove the "yellow card" warning in 2023. VNS