Vietnam’s prime minister orders an end to illegal fishing this year

Published on
September 21, 2021
Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has asked his government’s ministries and agencies to put an end to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has asked his government’s ministries and agencies to put an end to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing by the end of 2021, with the goal of obtaining removal of the European Commission’s yellow card.

Chinh made the statement in early September while chairing a virtual conference with officials from coastal provinces and cities, as well as representatives seafood sector.

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.

The prime minister said there remain many shortcomings and problems in implementation of the E.C.’s recommendations. For example, penalties on IUU fishing have not been strict enough in some localities to halt it from happening, and monitoring and control of vessels at Vietnam’s fishing ports has not been conducted effectively, Chinh said.

Vietnam National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue on his two-day visit to the European Union, ending 10 September, asked the European Parliament to support Vietnam’s efforts to address the issues raised by the E.C. in its yellow card announcement.

In a separate government meeting in July, Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh said Vietnam has not been able to completely prevent its fishermen from fishing illegally in other countries’ waters, despite some progress on the issue. He requested that coastal provinces, cities, ministries, and the fisheries sector work to gradually reduce the number of fishing boats considered to be in violation of IUU policies, with a view to completely ending all violations in 2022.

Following the issuance of the yellow card – between 2017 and 2019 – Vietnam’s seafood exports to the E.U. contracted by 12 percent in value, with that loss estimated at USD 183.5 million (EUR 155.4 million). Octopus exports to the E.U. dropped 37 percent, mollusk and crab exports declined 11 percent, and tuna exports fell 2 percent. The export value of farmed seafood sent from Vietnam to the E.U. also shrank by 13 percent during the timeframe.

In 2020, Vietnam’s E.U. seafood exports decreased 5.7 percent by volume to USD 959 million (EUR 812.4 million), both due to the yellow card and the negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 estimate 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.

Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Contributing Editor reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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