|A ban on Vietnamese seafood to the EU could cost the industry half a billion dollars within 2-3 years. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam's seafood exports could suffer over half a billion dollars loss in the event the European Union issues a 2-3 year red card as a measure against the Southeast Asian country's fishing practices, according to industry insiders and policymakers.
An inspection team from the European Commission will visit the country in October this year to evaluate Việt Nam's efforts in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The evaluation results will be a basis for the EU to consider the removal of its yellow card warning, which was issued six years ago.
According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the EU's yellow card has resulted in a steady and significant decline in Việt Nam's exports to the EU. Việt Nam's seafood exports to the EU has fallen by nearly 10 per cent in the last five years. By 2022, the EU dropped two places to stay as Việt Nam's fourth largest seafood importer, behind the US, Japan and China.
In 2020, Việt Nam's seafood exports to the EU, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, failed to reach the US$1 billion mark.
In the event of a 2-3 year ban, the seafood industry will likely be affected. Among the hardest hit are seafood harvesting and processing sectors with a decline forecast by as much as 30 per cent in capacity, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
"A red card will be a huge blow to Việt Nam's market share in the EU and severely hurt the operations of over 60 seafood factories across the country, as well as the livelihood of thousands of fishermen," said VASEP in a statement.
In addition, it will make it just that much harder for the country to build a modern fishing industry in the future.
To make matters worse, more markets have started adopting similar regulations regarding IUU fishing activities including some of Việt Nam's top customers such as the US and Japan.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said this coming inspection in October by the EU Commission is critical to lifting the warning on Vietnamese seafood.
MARD Deputy Minister Phùng Đức Tiến said the central government has been in close cooperation with local authorities to enforce anti-IUU measures, in accordance to Government Decree No.26 and Fisheries Law, and to deal with violations.
He stressed the importance of local authorities in the installation of a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) in Vietnamese boats, as well as the tracking, handling and reporting of fishing data to the central government.
Meanwhile, efforts have been taken to strictly enforce product origin rules and strengthen the process of document legitimisation for shipments.
"It's imperative that we are able to show results and our commitment to removing IUU practices," said the deputy minister. — VNS