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EC recognises Vietnam's improvements in combating IUU fishing

The European Commission’s (EC) inspection delegation has acknowledged recent improvements made by Vietnam in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).

Tran Dinh Luan, Deputy Director General of the Directorate of Fisheries (DoF), told a press conference in Hanoi on December 26 about the results of the inspection team from the EC Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries which took place last month.

In a letter sent to the Vietnamese Directorate of Fisheries on December 19, the EC’s inspection team recognised Vietnam’s cooperation, transparency and honesty in providing and exchanging information during their time in Vietnam.

They confirmed Vietnam has made a lot of progress compared to the first inspection in May 2018 and is on the right track towards implementing the Fisheries Law and legal guiding documents.

The country’s significant improvements in the monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing vessels have been noted, which could be seen through their on-site inspection at Tac Cau fishing port, the busiest fish market in Kien Giang province. In addition, the management process and organisation of fishing vessels and output through the port were carried out flexibly and effectively.

Vietnam has also made great efforts to install fishing vessel monitoring systems, provide regulations and implement gear marking fishing vessels based on the EC’s recommendations.

The EC’s inspection team also acknowledged Vietnam’s efforts in increasing management of fishing density through freezing offshore fishing fleets. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also issued a decision on assigning a quota of offshore fishing permits for 28 coastal provinces.

However, some shortcomings were pointed out, such as slow progress of installing cruise monitoring equipment on fishing vessels, incomprehensive surveillance systems with many technical errors, as well as limited and inconsistent sanctioning on violations among localities.

There is also no evidence to prove competent authorities ensure sufficient and accurate traceability mechanisms in fishery processing plants, they said.

The EC also said that they will not withdraw the yellow card if Vietnam has not solved the problem of fishing in foreign waters.

The EC’s inspection team will return to Vietnam to check on progress in the next six months. The country must submit a comprehensive report on the results of the recommendation implementation by May 15 next year.

The team has suggested Vietnam continue completing its legal framework and law enforcement’s implementing work, along with increasing monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing vessels, seafood traceability and fishing certification.

According to Nguyen Thi Trang Nhung, Deputy Director of the DoF’s Department of Science, Technology and International Cooperation, the inspection team praised Vietnam’s improvements in building a database of fishing vessels, updating information on fishing vessel licensing and planning for sustainable fishing vessel development.

Previously, Vietnam had no surveillance system at the port but now it has been implemented as a model in Kien Giang that has effectively controlled fishing vessels.

In the near future, the fisheries sector and localities will handle strictly offshore fishing vessels, especially those fishing illegally, to create a real deterrent for violators and ships on the EC’s watchlist will face special monitoring.