European Commission, Vietnam talking over yellow card issues later in October
European Commission inspectors will hold a virtual meeting with officials of Vietnam’s General Department of Fisheries to discuss the country’s issues with illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing on 27 October.
Originally, the E.C. was planning to send a delegation to conduct inspections, but that visit has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lao dong newspaper reported 5 October, citing an interview with Vietnam General Department of Fisheries Deputy Director Nguyen Quang Hung.
Vietnam was first issued a yellow card in October 2017 by the E.C., which said the Southeast Asian nation had not done enough to tackle IUU fishing. Since its imposition, the E.U. has been conducting a review of Vietnam’s fisheries-related policies to determine which route it will take out of three options available to it: maintaining the country’s yellow card status, issuing a red card banning all seafood imports from Vietnam, or rescinding the yellow card and resuming normal trading relations.
Hung said after two previous visits to Vietnam, the E.C. inspectors had praised the country’s anti-IUU efforts, which gave him the impression it is less likely that the country will be given a red card. However, Vietnam’s government has acknowledged it has been unable to fully halt illegal fishing activities by its fishermen in other countries’ waters, which was a primary request made by the E.C.
In early September, Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh ordered his government’s ministries and agencies to put an end to IUU fishing by the end of 2021, with the goal of obtaining removal of the yellow card. Following the prime minister’s direction, leaders of coastal provinces pledged to stop illegal fishing conducted by local fishermen by the end of 2021, Hung said. He said the eradication of illegal fishing will be a crucial factor for the E.C. to decide if the yellow card will be removed.
The red card would cause severe losses to Vietnam’s seafood exports, according to a report from the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and the World Bank. Their report, “A Trade-Based Analysis of the Economic Impact of Non-Compliance with Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing: The Case of Vietnam,” was issued on 10 August. In it, they estimated Vietnam will lose USD 387 million (EUR 327.8 million) per year from the loss of export revenue from wild-caught seafood including tuna, squid, and octopus, and USD 93 million (EUR 78.8 million) annually from a loss of income from farmed seafood exports, which would be indirectly affected by the E.U.’s ban. Vietnam’s wild-caught seafood output is likely to decrease by about 30 percent within two to three years of a red card being implemented, the report found.
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