Vietnam hit with EU yellow card for insufficient action against illegal fishing

Published on
October 23, 2017

The European Commission has issued a yellow card warning to Vietnam for not doing enough to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The commission's carding system is the European Union's main tool in the fight against illegal fishing. It encourages countries to work with the commission to improve their fisheries governance and retain access to E.U. markets.

It has identified shortcomings, 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 neighboring countries, including Pacific Small Island Developing States. 

Furthermore, Vietnam has a poor system to control landings of fish that are processed locally before being exported to international markets, including the European Union, according to a press release from the commission.

Karmenu Vella, E.U. commissioner for the environment, maritime affairs, and fisheries, said the action against Vietnam demonstrated the commission’s firm commitment to fight illegal fishing globally. 

“We cannot ignore the impact that illegal activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels are having on marine ecosystems in the Pacific. We invite the Vietnamese authorities to step up their fight so we can reverse this decision quickly. We are offering them our technical support," he said.

At this stage, the decision does not entail any measures affecting trade. The yellow card offers the possibility for Vietnam to take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable timeframe and the commission has proposed an action plan to support the country in addressing the identified shortcomings.

Since 2012, the commission has held informal discussions with Vietnamese authorities. These authorities are now invited to engage in a formal procedure of dialogue to resolve the identified issues and implement an action plan for the Southeast Asian country.

The E.U. has estimated that between 11 and 26 million metric tons (MT) of fish, or at least 15 percent of the global catch, is caught illegally each year. The value of these landings is between EUR 8 billion and 19 billion (USD 9.4 and USD 22.3 billion).

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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