ASEAN's Efforts to Develop Sustainable Fishing

ASEAN's Efforts to Develop Sustainable Fishing

With over 600 million people, ASEAN is one of the important regions in producing and consuming seafood products. In recent years, ASEAN countries have realized the importance of and made efforts to promote cooperation in developing the marine economy, especially in developing sustainable fishing.

Fishing boats gathering seafood by fishermen in Ninh Thuan. Photo: Nguyen Thanh/VNA

The ASEAN region contributes about 25% of the
global seafood production, with four out of the
world's top 10 seafood producing countries, including
indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.


Southeast Asia has favorable conditions for the development of both the fishing and aquaculture  industries, with the potential to bring great value to economic development, food security and social welfare. Recently, ASEAN countries have introduced many initiatives to jointly build a mechanism for developing a modern, sustainable, responsible, and effective fishing industry in the region.

However, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities have caused significant economic losses to ASEAN countries, estimated at around six billion US dollars in 2019. Indonesia suffered the largest losses, at around three billion US dollars, while Vietnam lost approximately 1.6 billion US dollars annually.


After many efforts to prevent and control IUU fishing to lift the "yellow card" from the EU, Vietnam now has over 95% of its fishing vessels equipped with journey monitoring devices installed, and 49 designated fishing ports spanning 28 coastal provinces which are capable of tracing the origin of harvested and caught seafood products, meeting requirements for confirmation and certification, gradually becoming stable, and highly reliable. With the determination of the entire political system as well as the unanimity of fishermen, Vietnam will develop sustainable fishing industries and meet the demand for export to even the most demanding markets.


As the world's largest archipelagic country with a manageable maritime area of 6.4 million km2, Indonesia annually catches a sustainable maximum of 13 million tonnes of seafood. The fisheries sector contributed approximately 30 billion US dollars, equivalent to 2.7% of the economy of this Southeast Asian nation in 2019.

In the Philippines, the government is simultaneously training more maritime security personnel and purchasing modern equipment for vessels and systems for satellite-connected tracking  and monitoring. Currently, at major fishing grounds  in the Philippines, fishermen still strictly adhere to regulations such as not exceeding catch quotas, fishing during the appropriate season, and using fishing gear that meets the standards.



Thailand has been strengthening cooperation with different countries to better address IUU fishing. Thailand’s Department of Fisheries asserts that the country is now able to ensure that all seafood products harvested, processed, imported, and exported from Thailand are not related to IUU fishing or forced labor.

During the visit of Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh to Brunei in early February, 2023, the two sides signed an Action Program on the implementation of Vietnam-Brunei Comprehensive Partnership for the 2023-2027 period. The two sides agreed to consider the possibility of joint ventures in seafood processing and aquaculture.


In order to develop the fishing industry as well as a sustainable marine economy, ASEAN needs a legally binding framework and an effective regional cooperation framework.

During Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh's visit to the EU in late 2022, the EU Commissioner for environment, Oceans and fisheries Virginijus sinkevicus said
that Vietnam has made some progress in combating IUU fishing and may soon be
able to have the yellow card lifted.

 Story: VNP   Photos: VNA   Translated by Hong Hanh