EU to review Vietnam’s efforts to curb illegal fishing in May

Published on
March 27, 2018

The European Union will send a working group to Vietnam in May to assess Vietnam’s efforts to fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The review will be made six months after the European Commission’s October 2017 decision to impose “yellow card” status on Vietnam, claiming the country was not doing enough to tackle illegal fishing. The E.U. will use the results of the review to determine its next steps as to whether issue a red card banning all seafood imports from Vietnam, maintain the country’s yellow card status, or rescind it and resume normal trading relations, Vietnam’s agriculture minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said in an interview with Vietnam News Agency last week.

Cuong wrapped up a four-day visit to the E.U. on Saturday, 24 March, during which he urged the bloc to revoke the yellow card in light of his country’s “concerted efforts” to curb illegal fishing.

Vietnam is expected to provide the E.U. a report in April containing detailed information regarding the steps it has taken to tackle illegal fishing. The E.U. will then make a review in May, which will include site inspections in Vietnam, in order to assess the country’s progress. The “yellow card” can only be revoked if Vietnam is found to be effectively implementing all the recommendations that the E.U. had made in October 2017, Vietnam News Agency said, quoting European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella. 

The current yellow card is just a warning and does not actually affect trade between the two countries. Upon the issuance of a yellow card, the E.U. provides detailed recommendations to Vietnam on reforms, labeled an action plan, intended to support the country in addressing the identified shortcomings. The country receiving the yellow card has a trial period in which implement the action plan and prove to the European Commission it is making reforms.

The European Commission and Vietnam have discussed shortcomings in Vietnamese fisheries regulations and enforcement since 2012. The two sides are now officially in a formal procedure of dialogue to resolve the issues of disagreement. During the negotiations, the E.U. has said it will consider providing financial and technical support packages to help Vietnam improve human resources and technical capacities in its fisheries sector, Cuong said.

In 2017, the E.U. surpassed the United States to become the top destination for seafood products exported from Vietnam. The Southeast Asian nation exported seafood volumes worth USD 1.42 billion (EUR 1.14 billion) to 14 major buyers in the E.U. in 2017, up 22.1 percent from 2016, according to Vietnam’s customs data.

Contributing Editor reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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