Việt Nam works hard to combat illegal fishing

October 26, 2019 - 08:18

Việt Nam has taken various measures to handle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing since it received a “yellow card” warning from the European Commission (EC) in October 2017.

Fishermen catch tuna at the Tam Quan Bắc fishing port in the central province of Bình Định. Việt Nam's efforts to settle the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing have gained positive results. VNA/VNS Photo Vũ Sinh

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam has taken various measures to handle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing since it received a “yellow card” warning from the European Commission (EC) in October 2017.

These efforts have resulted in positive changes.
In November 2017, Việt Nam finalised and passed the Fisheries Law, institutionalising EC’s recommendations on IUU fishing prevention.

Following the adoption of the law, a system of legal documents guiding its implementation was introduced.

Commenting on the outcomes of the measures taken, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phùng Đức Tiến said that Việt Nam had strived to realise four solutions suggested by the EC, including the completion of the legal framework, the installation of monitoring systems on fishing vessels to control their operation, law enforcement and origin tracing of aquatic products.

Tiến said that so far, the country’s efforts in completing the legal system had been shown in the Fisheries Law 2017 and guiding documents, noting that all localities had been equipped with monitoring systems to supervise, check and manage the operations of fishing vessels.

Management boards of fishing ports had been active in tracing the origins of seafood, he said, adding that the MARD had classified the port system into two types to facilitate the work and included relevant storage facilities and refrigeration warehouses in its planning.

Communications activities had also been prioritised to boost awareness on the 2017 Law on Fisheries and responsible fishing, the official noted.

According to the MARD, from the beginning of last year, no Vietnamese ships have been found to fish illegally in the Pacific.

Meanwhile, localities have stepped up checks of fishing vessels leaving or docking at ports in line with regulations, particularly those on safety requirements.
Some have even applied harsh punishments for violating vessels like revoking licences without further granting new ones. The patrol and inspection of major waters have also been effectively coordinated among law enforcement agencies at sea.

Between 2018 and now, the MARD has sent 18 working delegations at different levels to examine and direct anti-IUU activities at various localities. 
Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng inspected the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the southern province of Kiên Giang on Wednesday, requesting ministries, sectors and localities to make stronger efforts to swiftly put an end to the problem.

At a working session with the Deputy PM, Vice Chairman of the Kiên Giang People’s Committee Mai Anh Nhịn said as of September this year, the province had 9,858 registered fishing boats. It recorded a total catch of 450,593 tonnes of aquatic products in the first nine months – equivalent to 76.24 per cent of this year’s target.

To fight IUU fishing, Kiên Giang had issued directives and plans, including stepping up inspections, increasing communications about laws of regional countries, monitoring the installation of tracking devices, and certifying seafood origin, he noted.

However, the official admitted that local fishing boats were still committing infringements, with 52 violations in the first half of 2019, up 21 from the same period last year. Although a high percentage of boats were now equipped with tracking devices, connections with mainland stations remained limited.

Deputy PM Dũng pointed out the shortcomings Kiên Giang needs to address, especially the low rate of tracking devices that are turned on while boats are at sea, which is about 30 – 40 per cent. He asked the province to deal with boats that switched off their equipment while increasing human resources and upgrading infrastructure to ensure food safety in the docks.

He demanded an immediate end to IUU fishing, telling local authorities to carry out the EC’s recommendations to remove the “yellow card” and prevent local boats from fishing in foreign waters.
Most recently,  replying to reporters’ questions related to the European Commission (EC)’s visit to Việt Nam to assess the country’s efforts in implementing the EC’s recommendations on fighting IUU fishing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng said officials from the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG – MARE) would work in Việt Nam from November 4-14. They were scheduled to make field trips to a number of localities to check the implementation of the warning.

Vietnamese agencies, localities and organisations had drastically implemented solutions to build a sustainable and responsible fisheries sector, and curb IUU fishing on the basis of the EC’s recommendations, she highlighted.

Việt Nam was willing to co-ordinate with the EC in combating IUU fishing, the official affirmed. 

According to the Directorate of Fisheries Việt Nam’s fight against the IUU has reaped noteworthy outcomes, including the legalisation of international and regional regulations in the Fisheries Law 2017 and relevant instruction documents, and the improvement of awareness of fisheries management agencies at all levels, fishermen and enterprises about the importance of preventing IUU fishing. 

The illegal fishing by vessels in the waters of countries in the Pacific has ceased. Many provinces and cities have removed or reduced the number of vessels fishing illegally in foreign waters.

The inspection and control of fishing vessels operating at sea and port inspections have made progress, while international cooperation activities in the field of fishing have been promoted. Việt Nam has been actively joining and implementing international treaties and conventions towards a modern, responsible and sustainable fishery sector. — VNS