|Hòn Rớ Port, Khánh Hoà Province, has met the inspection requirements for checking and keeping records of ships entering and leaving the port. — VNA/VNS Photo Đặng Tuấn
KHÁNH HOÀ — Thanks to improved awareness by fishermen and the entire political system’s strong engagement, the central province of Khánh Hoà has received high evaluation from the European Commission (EC) delegation for its progress in fighting illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
At a recent teleconference with the 28 coastal provinces and cities, Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính said localities have 180 days to address problems and carry out the tasks they haven’t fulfilled to remove the EC’s “yellow card” warning against IUU fishing.
He emphasised that the fight against IUU fishing requires the entire political system’s engagement, and all efforts must be made for the sake of the people and the country.
Over the past five years, Khánh Hoà has stepped up the dissemination of regulations on anti-IUU fishing among the vessel owners, fishermen, captains, and fishery logistics service providers in coastal communes and fishery ports.
Communications work has also increased to raise fishermen’s awareness of the maritime boundaries of Việt Nam and other countries so that they will not infringe in foreign waters. As a result, local fishermen’s awareness and adherence to laws have gradually been improved.
Nguyễn Trọng Hiếu, head of the Hòn Rớ Port management board in Nha Trang City, said the EC delegation’s inspection showed that the port has met requirements for origin traceability and vessel records. Communications about IUU fishing prevention and control have also generated encouraging results, including a decline in the number of vessels and fishermen suspected of committing IUU fishing.
Fisherman Cao Văn Thơ, 53, from Vĩnh Trường Ward of Nha Trang City, said to help persuade the EC to remove the “yellow card” warning, he and many other colleagues have exploited maritime resources only in the waters of Việt Nam since they are well aware that if they violate foreign sea areas, the EC will not lift the warning and even impose a “red card”, which will greatly impact the country’s fisheries sector and fishermen’s income.
They have also complied with relevant rules when working at sea, including installing vessel monitoring systems, making reports whenever leaving or arriving at fishery ports, keeping full fishing records, and not infringing in other countries’ territories.
Nguyễn Trọng Chánh, Director of Khánh Hoà’s Sub-department for Fisheries, said since 2018, the province has issued 245 documents directing relevant units to take anti-IUU fishing measures.
It has also updated information about all the 3,199 local fishing vessels on the national fisheries database system (Vnfishbase), and granted fishing licences to 3,184 of them, equivalent to 99.5 per cent. Up to 98.39 per cent of the boats with a minimum length of 15 metres have been equipped with vessel monitoring devices.
He noted the vessel monitoring centre of the Fisheries Sub-department has applied modern equipment, assigned personnel to work around the clock, and kept in touch with families of vessel owners and fishermen in order to monitor the vehicles operating at sea and give timely warnings to those working in the waters adjacent to regional countries’.
“We adamantly do not permit vessels to leave ports if they haven’t fully complied with anti-IUU fishing rules,” Chánh went on.
In addition, the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development also demanded that the Fisheries Sub-departments coordinate with the border guards and localities to frequently hold patrols and examinations, and stringently deal with any violation of anti-IUU fishing rules.
Chánh noted Khánh Hoà Province hasn’t recorded any local fishing vessels violating foreign waters since 2018.
Support from fishermen is of great importance to the combat against IUU fishing, he opined, adding the upgrade of fisheries infrastructure is also critical to keeping control over vessels’ activities.
However, the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development admitted that Khánh Hoà is still facing certain difficulties in this regard. The waters adjacent to those of some regional countries – namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines – haven’t been demarcated, so vessels face latent risks while operating in these areas.
At a meeting in early December, the Khánh Hoà People’s Committee proposed ministries and central agencies step up negotiations on the maritime boundary delimitation between Việt Nam and related countries to better manage fishing activities, minimise infringements of foreign waters, and provide timely assistance to vessels in distress at sea.
Khánh Hoà is currently home to four fishery ports, namely Hờn Rớ, Đá Bạc, Vĩnh Lương, and Đại Lãnh, and 57 qualified establishments producing and processing fishery products for export recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The province’s annual seafood catch averages 96,000 tonnes. In 2022, the figure is estimated at 97,800 tonnes, up 1.02 per cent from a year earlier. Local aquatic products have been exported to 64 markets around the world. — VNS