|Trần Dân, a fisherman, whose vessel to catch squid just returns from the deep sea, says he is very sad because the wholesalers push down the squid price.—Photo thanhnien.vn
QUẢNG NGÃI — The fish ports in the central province of Quảng Ngãi are quieter these days, as a lack of fish to catch offshore has led fishermen to sell their boats, while wholesalers are driving down the price for those who are sticking with the trade.
Trần Minh, 54, of Bình Thuận Commune, Bình Sơn District said his family had fished for a living for three generations, before he had to sell his boat.
“I had to sell the vessel. It's sad but true, the nearshore zone seems to have run out of fish,” he said.
He couldn't look after his family with the money he earned by catching fish anymore, he said.
Võ Minh Thư, of Tịnh Khê Commune, Sơn Tịnh District, has fished for 50 years. When he was young, he went far offshore to fish, but in recent years, as he has passed 70 years old, he only works in the nearshore zone.
“This year, there are very few fish to catch. It is because people have overfished. They even catch baby fish,” he said.
This had led to the depletion of aquatic resources, he added.
Trần Văn Dân, 50, of Bình Thạnh Commune, Bình Sơn District, a fishing vessel owner, said his vessel only caught about 10 tonnes of squid after it went sailing for a month and a half near the Trường Sa (Spratly) Islands.
Normally they could watch about 40-50 tonnes, Thanh Niên (Young People) online newspaper reported.
When at the sea, the crew heard seafood wholesalers had put down the price, so they stopped catching and returned to the mainland, he said.
Đặng Tằm, of Bình Châu Commune, another vessel owner, said it was hard to earn a living by catching fish offshore. This meant it was hard for fishing vessel owners to hire labourers to go on fishing expeditions.
He's even had to pay workers in advance to get enough crew for his ship.
Statistics of the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reveal that fishermen exploit more 2.5 million tonnes of fish each year, while the recommended number is about 1.7 million tonnes.
Overfishing and poor fishing techniques were blamed for the depletion of aquatic resources. This was the consequence of loose management of fisheries by the authorities, according to experts.
In Quảng Ngãi alone, 5,664 fishing vessels currently operate with about 38,000 labourers.
Dương Văn Rin, head of a local aquatic processing company, said he had asked agencies to limit the number of newly-built ships in the province.
Other local fishermen also suggested agencies set up marine protected areas and ban fishing in some areas.
Tạ Văn Minh, vice chairman of the People’s Committee of Bình Thuận Commune, said the commune now had about 200 fishing vessels, dozens of fishing vessels lower compared to 2016.
In the long-term, Minh advised the local administration to help local fishermen change careers.
Phùng Đình Toàn, deputy head of the provincial Fisheries Division, said the province had tightened management of fishing vessels’ activities.
The province was compiling regulations to limit newly built fishing vessels, he said.
It had also made efforts to raise awareness of local people of the importance of sustainable exploitation. Spontaneous exploitation would be improved. Then, local fishermen would gradually shift to sustainable exploitation, he said. — VNS