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IUU fishing must be eradicated: Deputy PM

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung inspected the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the southern province of Kien Giang on October 23, requesting ministries, sectors and localities to make stronger efforts to swiftly put an end to the problem.

In October 2017, the European Commission (EC) issued a “yellow card” warning to Vietnam due to the country’s failure to demonstrate sufficient progress in the fight against IUU fishing.

Countries that fail to meet EC standards are given a "yellow card", followed by a "green card" if the problems are resolved, or a "red card" if they are not. A red card can lead to a trade ban on seafood.

At a working session with the Deputy PM, Vice Chairman of the Kien Giang People’s Committee Mai Anh Nhin said as of September 2019, the province had 9,858 registered fishing boats. It recorded a total catch of 450,593 tonnes of aquatic products in the first nine months – equivalent to 76.24 percent of this year’s target.

To fight IUU fishing, Kien Giang has issued directives and plans, including stepping up inspections, increasing communications about laws of regional countries, monitoring the installment of tracking devices, and certifying seafood’s origin, he noted.

However, the official admitted that local fishing boasts still commit infringements, with 52 violations in the first half of 2019, up 21 from the same period last year. Although a high percentage of boats are now equipped with tracking devices, connections with mainland stations remain limited.

Deputy PM Dung pointed out the shortcomings Kien Giang needs to address, especially the low rate of tracking devices that are turned on while boats are at sea, which is about 30 – 40 percent. He asked the province to deal with boats that switched off their equipment while increasing human resources and upgrading infrastructure to ensure food safety in the docks.

He demanded an immediate end to IUU fishing, telling local authorities to carry out the EC’s recommendations to remove the “yellow card” and prevent local boats from fishing in foreign waters. Meanwhile, ministries, sectors and localities must stay focused on their tasks, particularly controlling boats and vessels in Vietnam’s waters and strictly dealing with violations of fisheries laws.

To boost the sustainable development of Vietnam’s fisheries sector, the industry must be restructured towards smaller catches and more aquaculture, the Deputy PM said, adding that restructuring will help eradicate IUU fishing, develop the sector sustainably, and improve its competitiveness in regional and global markets.