The European Commission is planning to conduct another inspection to check Vietnam’s progress in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
E.C. Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE) IUU Fisheries Policy Unit Head Roberto Cesari was in Vietnam on 28 October, wrapping up the most-recent site visit, when he announced his team would be returning within six months for a follow-up appointment.
Vietnam was first issued a yellow card from the European Union in October 2017 after the European Commission determined it had not done enough to discourage 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 to the E.U., or rescinding the yellow card and resuming normal trading relations.
In a meeting with Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh, Cesari said Vietnam had made significant advancements in its efforts against IUU fishing, with the country’s central government level making significant changes in its regulations and policies. Cesari also said his delegation noted great progress in information transparency and capacity-building for fisheries managers in 28 coastal localities at which they performed random inspections. However, implementation at the grassroots level is still weak, with arrests of Vietnamese fishermen in the exclusive economic zones of other countries still a common occurrence.
Cesari called on Vietnam to continue to push to implement effective monitoring of its fleet and to ensure consistent and synchronous enforcement from the central to the local level. He also called on Vietnam to toughen its penalties against IUU, to ensure it has enough policing capacity to enforce deterrence efforts, and to severely punish violations. Cesari also called for Vietnam to formulate a national management plan for its aquatic resources and to tighten its import controls concerning aquatic materials for export processing.
According to a statement from the Vietnamese government, Thanh told Cesari Vietnam has been doing its best to implement the E.C.'s recommendations, such as implementing marine conservation protocols, allocating quotas for fishing permits, and implementing a plan to gradually reduce the country’s overall fishing effort.
He called on the E.U. member-countries to continue to provide technical assistance to aid Vietnam’s own efforts, and to commit to removing its yellow card.
Photo courtesy of Vietnam Governmental Portal