Việt Nam seeks the removal of the yellow card during EC's inspection in mid-October

September 30, 2023 - 08:39
In the effort to lift the IUU yellow card, the most crucial prerequisite was to put an end to the situation of fishing vessels violating the exploitation of seafood in foreign waters. However, the task remained challenging.


A border soldier inspects the installation of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) on a boat in Kiên Giang Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Đạt

HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced that with relentless efforts to curb the illegal fishing by Vietnamese fishing vessels in foreign waters, Việt Nam’s fishery sector hoped that the removal of its yellow card warning for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing will happen this year.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phùng Đức Tiến made the statement on Friday during a virtual conference with 28 coastal cities and provinces and relevant agencies and units, regarding preparations for the European Commission (EC) inspection team for the fourth time.

The EC inspection team was scheduled to visit Việt Nam between October 10-18 to evaluate the implementation of EC recommendations on combating IUU fishing following the third inspection in October 2022. Based on their findings, a decision would be made regarding the removal or maintenance of the yellow card warning for Vietnamese seafood products.

During the meeting, Deputy Minister Tiến reported that Việt Nam has focused on addressing four groups of issues, including legal frameworks, management and supervision of fishing vessels, origin traceability and law enforcement.

Regarding legislative regulations, Việt Nam has already enacted the Fisheries Law in 2017. The ministry has completed nine circulars and amended two decrees, including Decree No. 26/2019/NĐ-CP and Decree No. 42/2019/NĐ-CP for the implementation of IUU fishing regulations.

Furthermore, Circular No. 81-CV/TW has concentrated all available resources on lifting the yellow card, and the Prime Minister's Decision No. 81/QĐ-TTg was issued to establish an action plan to combat IUU fishing.

In collaboration with various ministries, sectors and localities, the ministry has been implementing programmes and plans of sustainable, responsible, internationally integrated seafood industry development, IUU fishing prevention, and effective implementation of Việt Nam's seafood development strategy by 2030 with a vision to 2045.

Regarding fishing vessel management and monitoring, the ministry has advised the Prime Minister to instruct localities to review the entire fleet of fishing vessels, update vessel data in the national fisheries database (VNFishbase), and issue directives to temporarily suspend the granting of new permits for construction of fishing vessels with a length of 15 metres or more.

Border soldiers inspect a fishing vessel in Kiên Giang Province. — VNA/VNS Photo

As of now, the entire country has installed vessel monitoring systems (VMS) on fishing vessels with a length of 15 metres or more, achieving a rate of 97.86 per cent.

Tiến said in the effort to lift the IUU yellow card, the most crucial prerequisite was to put an end to the situation of fishing vessels violating the exploitation of seafood in foreign waters. However, he acknowledged that the task remained challenging.

Currently, the country has 86,820 fishing vessels with a length of six metres or more, including over 30,000 vessels with a length of 15 metres or more.

Related the origin traceability, the origin tracing of fishing vessels has been tightly controlled, including monitoring through a confirmation and certification mechanism for the origin of seafood, ensuring consistency with vessel control records at port entries and exits, confirmation at designated fishing ports, and issuance of export certificates, and control of raw materials at processing plants.

Control over the origin of seafood raw materials imported from foreign countries has also been enhanced to ensure compliance with regulations.

Trần Đình Luân, head of the ministry’s Directorate of Fisheries, stated that the yellow card warning has been in six years.

This was a matter of great concern to the Government, especially the Prime Minister, he said, adding that the actions taken by the Government and various ministries and agencies demonstrated an unwavering determination to fulfil the EC’s requirements.

Luân said legal regulations have been completed and are in line with Vietnamese law. Coastal provinces and cities have developed local models, with some fishermen performing exceptionally well, and these models needed to be replicated in other areas.

However, Luân said, violations of fishing vessels in foreign waters still persisted, which the EC viewed as a serious issue.

The Fisheries Law, Decree No. 26, and Decree No. 42 have clearly defined sanctions for this violation, but in practice, some regions mostly issued warnings.

Furthermore, Việt Nam has made every effort but has only been able to control 50 per cent of the vessels entering designated fishing ports for origin tracing.

Regarding administrative violations, the functional sectors have handled more than 4,000 cases with fines totaling VNĐ110 billion, but these matters have not been rigorously enforced in many localities.

Dương Văn Cường, deputy director of the ministry’s Department of Fisheries Surveillance, highlighted that the issue was not just about lifting the IUU yellow card but also about building a sustainable and responsible fishing industry.

In the upcoming inspection, he said, the EC would focus on the implementation of its recommendations on its third inspection in Việt Nam. Localities and ministries have actively prepared with the highest determination to achieve positive results, he added. — VNS