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Sep 10, 2020 / 08:35

Vietnam keeps combating IUU fishing to lift EC ‘yellow card’

The Vietnamese government has made great efforts to fight against IUU fishing in the past.

Vietnam continues to clamp down on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing on the basis of European Commission (EC) recommendations with the aim of being delisted from the "yellow card" status, said Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung at the National Steering Committee to Combat IUU.

 Vessels in Ninh Hai commune, Ninh Thuan province. Photo: VNA

Mapping out concrete tasks & solutions

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung highlighted that Vietnam has coordinated closely with the EC in combating IUU fishing while ministries, agencies and localities have deployed drastic and concerted efforts to curb IUU fishing.

However, the progress has yet to meet expectations because many shortcomings remain such as the failure to install the tracking system and the ineffective management of foreign flag vessels in Vietnamese ports.

Mr. Dung urged ministries, agencies and 28 coastal localities to map out concrete tasks and solutions in accordance with the government's zero-tolerance approach to stop illegal fishing in foreign waters.

He tasked the Ministry of National Defense to enhance patrols in overlapping waters between Vietnam and other countries, collaborate closely with relevant ministries, agencies and coastal provinces and cities to strictly control fishing vessels.

Fishing vessels without valid licenses and regulated journey monitoring systems will not be allowed to leave or enter ports, the Deputy PM requested.

Mr. Dung requested the Ministry of Public Security to investigate and handle cases concerning netting fish in foreign waters while strengthening international cooperation in the process of investigation and handling of violations.

 Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung addresses the meeting. Photo: VGP

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is required to strengthen and promote negotiations on the delimitation of exclusive economic zones between Vietnam and other countries.

He demanded stronger enforcement of the IUU-related provisions of the 2017 Law on Fisheries and other documents guiding the implementation of the Law. He also stressed the need to restructure the fisheries sector towards improving living standards of fishermen and shifting to aquaculture.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development must enhance inspection to oversee compliance and guide implementation processes. Coastal localities have to expeditiously complete installation of journey monitoring system and foster law enforcement work, Mr. Dung stressed.

Tracking system installation is important

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said three years on since being warned with a “yellow card” by the EC, the country has made significant progress in fighting against IUU thanks to the great resolve and drastic involvement of the whole political system, central and local authorities and businesses.

Specifically, the country has established a national steering committee, promulgated regulations to combat illegal fishing while rectifying shortcomings in vessels registration, installing tracking systems on boats, and tracing the origin of domestic aquatic products. Especially, the country has gained remarkable progress in controlling illegal fishing in the Pacific, Mr. Cuong added.

The EC spoke highly of Vietnam’s efforts but it warned that the “yellow card” would not be removed as illegal fishing activities still occur, Mr. Cuong said.

Law enforcement work still remains insufficient as only a few illegal cases have been brought to trial despite the fact that punitive mechanisms have already been introduced. 

According to the Ministry of Public Security, it is difficult for police forces to collect evidence of violations of vessels fishing offshore as some of them turned off the tracking system or put it on other vessels.

According to experiences of other countries, only the installation of electronic equipment, positioning and monitoring can control the situation of illegal fishing, according to the Ministry of National Defense. However, it is necessary to improve the reliability and quality of the positioning equipment and this issue must be reviewed and controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Between January and August, 57 violations involving 92 Vietnamese fishing vessels in foreign waters were caught, lower than the same period last year when 53 violations involving 89 vessels were handled. As of August 31, 24,851 out of total 30,851 vessels measuring 15 meters in length installed the tracking system, accounting for 80.61%, according to the committee’s report.