Vietnam urged to do more to eliminate IUU fishing by local fishermen

Published on
November 25, 2020

Vietnam is being urged to act more forcefully to put an end to illegal activity perpetrated by its fishermen in the exclusive economic zones of neighboring countries, according to Vietfish Magazine on 24 November.

Vietnam was first issued a yellow card  in October 2017 by the European Commission, which said the Southeast Asian nation had not done enough to eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Since its imposition, the E.U. has been conducting a review of Vietnam’s fisheries- and seafood-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 two sides had two virtual meetings, in June and October this year, to review Vietnam’s progress, according to the magazine.

While the country has undertaken several significant steps to improve the management of its fisheries sector. Vietnamese fishermen continue to engage in IUU fishing abroad. As many as 13 Vietnamese fishing vessels were detained by authorities of other countries this year, according to a report from Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Local officials, including Vietnam Vice Agriculture Minister Phung Duc Tien, said the E.U.’s yellow card will only be lifted if once IUU-related issues by domestic fishermen are eradicated, and Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers Marine Product Committee Vice Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Thu Sac said current punishment levels for proven violations are not severe enough to deter illegal activity. Under the current Vietnamese regulations, those found guilty of illegal fishing face a maximum fine of VND 2 billion (USD 86,200, EUR 72,600).

Le Khac Dai, a fisheries expert at Vietnam’s Hue University, called on the government to make illegal fishing criminal, which would increase the penalties for violations to include potential jail sentences.

Last year, Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung in October last year ordered the Ministry of National Defense to use its forces to stop local fishermen from fishing illegally in other countries’ waters and required that monitoring device be installed on every vessel in Vietnam’s offshore fishing fleet. Thus far, trackers have been placed onboard 82 percent of the fleet; However, many fishermen are suspected of intentionally moving the device to another vessel operating in Vietnam, while continuing to fish illegally unabated.

Vietnam and the E.U. earlier this year approved their landmark trade deal- the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) effective from 1 August. However, VASEP’s Sac said preferential tax breaks for Vietnamese seafood products under the EVFTA will have no meaning if a red card is imposed, which would ban all of the country’s seafood exports from entrance into the E.U., she said in an interview with the Voice of Vietnam.

Photo courtesy of TheoLutova/Shutterstock

Reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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