EU commissioner praises Vietnam for progress in preventing illegal fishing

The European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, acknowledged that Vietnam has made some progress in eliminating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing 'yellow card' issued by the European Commission (EC) in October 2017 during his trip to Vietnam from November 27 to 28.

In an exclusive interview with Tuoi Tre News, Sinkevičius reaffirmed that the EU has a very strict zero-tolerance policy as regards the IUU fisheries.

Whether the fishing is domestic or international, the legislation has to be implemented.

Since October 2017, Vietnam has definitely made some progress, thanks to the great cooperation between the EC’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG – MARE) services and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, he said.

In late October this year, an inspection delegation of the EC was in Hanoi to assess Vietnam's efforts to rectify the IUU situation.

The delegation will prepare a report on the progress, which will be available by the beginning of 2023.

According to Sinkevičius, after that Vietnam will have six months to address the recommendations and its implementation shortcomings.

The EC will work and cooperate very closely with Vietnam in the process.

He emphasized three key things Vietnam needs to focus on in order to lift the EC’s IUU yellow card. Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius is seen in an interview with Tuoi Tre News. Video: Thanh Tuan – Hong Van / Tuoi Tre News

The first is the implementation on the ground. Vietnam needs to ensure that the enforcement agencies by all provinces and all the regions do their work properly.

Secondly, Vietnam needs to ensure that there is no market for illegally-caught fish by screening for such fish in ports and the producers or exporters.

“And last but not least, make a traceability system available. This requires Vietnam to issue certification or proof of where this fish comes from,” he said.

In his view, Sinkevičius sees that the possibility of removing the EC’s IUU yellow card in 2023 all depends on the efforts and work done by the Vietnamese government, by the implementing institutions, by the regional offices, and by the fishermen themselves.

He acknowledged that the government and fishery sectors have made determination to eradicate IUU fishing, so the future is optimistic.

Regarding the opportunities for Vietnamese seafood in the EU market, Sinkevičius believed that the opportunities are always great there while emphasizing that EU’s consumers refuse to be part of unsustainable practices.

If high sustainability standards are maintained, the EU market can pay a good price for top quality products.

In October 2017, the EC warned Vietnam with a yellow card for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

Its website stated that “Vietnam has not done enough to fight illegal fishing such as the lack of an effective sanctioning system to deter IUU fishing activities and a lack of action to address illegal fishing activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels in waters of neighbouring countries.

“Furthermore, Vietnam has a poor system to control the landing of fish that is processed locally before being exported to international markets, including the EU,” it said.

The yellow card is considered as a warning and offers the possibility for Vietnam to take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable timeframe.

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