|Fishermen takes a tuna from their vessel in the coastal central province of Khánh Hòa. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Dũng
HÀ NỘI — Community-based groups in recent years have been helping protect marine environments and aquatic resources by detecting and preventing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the central region.
According to the Directorate of Fisheries, a community-based group consisting of households and individuals living and benefiting from aquatic resources in an area has been voluntarily participating in protecting aquatic resources and combating IUU fishing in the area. They are recognised by local State agencies.
Data from the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development shows that since 2019, Hà Tĩnh Province has 15 community-based groups, Bình Định Province has four, Bình Thuận Province has three while provinces of Quảng Ngãi, Quảng Nam, Khánh Hòa and Phú Yên are setting up the groups.
A representative of Hà Tĩnh Province’s Division of Fisheries said the 15 community-based groups, with a total of 1,654 members, have been tasked with the protection of aquatic resources over 1,564 sq. km of sea.
The community-based groups have coordinated with coastal border stations to handle dozens of IUU fishing each year, he said.
“The IUU fishing has decreased thanks to the support of the community-based groups,” he said.
Fishing vessels no longer use destructive fishing methods or encroach on foreign waters like before, he added.
In Bình Định Province, there are four community-based groups recognised by the People's Committee of Quy Nhơn City so far.
The community-based groups are told to protect aquatic resources in 46,134 ha of sea and develop sustainable livelihoods associated with ecotourism development.
After the community-based groups were set up, the local coral reef ecosystem has been initially restored. Coral coverage has reached 75.6 per cent in Bãi Dứa Beach; 44.3 per cent in Hòn Khô Island; 31.8 per cent in Hòn Nhàn Beach; and 23.1 per cent in Bãi Trước Beach.
In Quảng Ngãi Province, Hồ Trọng Phương, director of the provincial Agriculture and Rural Development said that although there is no official community-based group, the provincial has run volunteer groups to protect and conserve sea turtles on Lý Sơn Island and release nearly 10,000 aquatic breeds in reservoirs, rivers and coastal waters.
The group has also supported establishing 299 fishing teams, 12 fisheries unions and eight offshore fishing and service cooperatives, he said.
By participating in the teams, unions and cooperatives, the local fishermen have shared responsibility for the protection of aquatic resources with the authorities, he said.
Phương said the province will officially promote the establishment of the community-based groups soon, contributing to removing the yellow card of the European Commission.
In Bình Thuận Province, Huỳnh Quang Huy, head of the provincial Division of Fisheries said the province found 373 violations of IUU fishing last year. The violators had to receive a total fine of VNĐ3.8 billion (US$163,400).
In the first six months of this year, 94 violations on IUU fishing have been found. The violators were fined a total amount of VNĐ1.7 billion ($73,100).
Huy said the violations were discovered thanks to the great contribution of the community-based groups.
He also said that it is important to choose a reputable, enthusiastic and experienced person to lead the community-based group, the division said.
It will help the operation of the community-based groups to work effectively, he said.
Trần Đình Luân, head of the ministry's Directorate of Fisheries, said the role of the community-based group in protecting aquatic resources and fighting against IUU fishing is really important.
Thanks to the establishment of the community-based groups, many IUU violations are detected and prevented, contributing to saving the increasingly-depleted coastal aquatic resources, he said.
The community-based groups also help State agencies and local authorities to manage and exploit aquatic resources in a sustainable direction, he said.
EC yellow card
Since 2012, 27 countries have been warned by the European Commission (EC). Việt Nam, along with 20 other countries, were issued yellow cards.
The EC's yellow card is issued to countries which fail to demonstrate sufficient progress in the fight against IUU fishing.
Việt Nam is determined to gradually reduce the number of fishing vessels violating regulations on IUU fishing to remove the yellow card issued by the EC by 2022.
Phùng Đức Tiến, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the EC appreciated Việt Nam's determination and honesty in providing the results of the implementation of the IUU fishing requirements over the past four years.
The country has made remarkable progress, particularly with the construction of a fishing vessel database that connects authorities on both national and local levels, he said.
As of October 2021, the installation of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) for vessels with a length of 15m or more reached 90.87 per cent in the country’s coastal localities.
It has also made efforts to improve the law enforcement and infrastructure of the fisheries sector. — VNS