Removing IUU fishing yellow card would benefit industry: deputy PM
Removing the European Commission's 'yellow card' on fishing would benefit industry workers and prove the country is committed to responsible and sustainable fishing, Deputy Prime Minister (PM) Le Van Thanh has said.
The Deputy PM was speaking at a meeting of the national steering committee on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing prevention yesterday, ahead of a European Commission (EC) visit to Viet Nam next month to assess anti-IUU fishing measures, as well as the infrastructure for aquaculture.
The warning was issued to Viet Nam on October 23, 2017.
Deputy PM Thanh said: "This is the opportunity for Viet Nam to remove the IUU yellow card and prove the country's commitments to the globally integrated, responsible and sustainable development of fisheries."
According to the director-general of the Directorate of Fisheries Tran Dinh Luan, Viet Nam has more than 91,716 fishing boats nationwide.
Of these boats, 95.27 per cent have a vessel monitoring system (VMS) installed. This figure reaches 100 per cent in several localities, including Quang Ninh, Thua Thien Hue, Ninh Binh, Soc Trang, Ca Mau, Vinh Long and Can Tho.
Approximately 80,000 fishing vessels have been inspected from the fourth quarter of last year until now.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien added that the legal frameworks and policies are fundamentally completed. However, shortcomings still arise during actual implementation, with negligence in logbook-keeping or disrupted connections to the VMS.
Deputy Chairman of Khanh Hoa Province's People's Committee Dinh Van Thieu said some fishing boats intentionally cut off their monitoring device, or move it to another boat. Meanwhile, Thanh Hoa Province officials said there are limitations in fishing port infrastructure.
Deputy PM Thanh said while there has been progress in management, marine patrol and VMS installation, the achievements have not met the demands.
The issuance of fishing licences has not reached the goal, with 96.7 per cent completion for fleets over 15m in length and 46.6 per cent for those less than 15m.
The installation of VMS is still slow, with only a 5 per cent increase, while violations in foreign waters still persist.
The hybrid meeting was held between ministries, departments and coastal localities. — VNA/VNS Photo An Dang
Deputy PM Le Van Thanh affirmed that Viet Nam is fully committed to limiting and eliminating IUU fishing.
Thanh said the country considers the protection and management of maritime resources of great importance to improving the livelihood of Vietnamese fishermen, as well as Viet Nam's pleas to uphold international standards in preserving the environment and developing a sustainable fishing industry.
In a recently government-approved roadmap to strengthen control over IUU fishing, the Southeast Asian country has set a target to document and track all fishing boats with lengths greater than 15 metres by 2025. Measures will also be taken to register every fishing trip by said boats.
The fishing industry is strictly regulated, with all fish from neighbouring countries arriving in Vietnamese ports under the standards set out in the Port State Measures Agreement, the first binding international agreement to specifically target IUU fishing.
Key focuses soon for the fishing industry include improving port infrastructure, rising awareness among fishermen, constant tracking of sea vessels, heavy penalties for parties taking part in IUU fishing and tighter control of product origin.
Law-enforcement agencies, including the Viet Nam Fisheries Resources Surveillance, the Coast Guard, Border Guard and Navy have been told to increase patrols to deter IUU fishing and support and protect Vietnamese vessels.
Local authorities of coastal cities and settlements have been tasked with monitoring fishing boats under their jurisdiction to prevent and report any IUU fishing activities.
A pilot programme combining increased awareness against IUU fishing with improved port control, and product origin measures, is to be implemented in Hai Phong, Khanh Hoa and Ca Mau. The Government seeks to build a model for managing and law enforcement of Vietnamese maritime resources.