Making news

Provinces ramp up installation of systems to fight illegal fishing

Coastal provinces across the country have ramped up the installation of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) in fishing ships as part of measures to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The move is expected to help lift the EU’s existing “yellow card” warning on Vietnamese seafood products when a delegation of the European Commission (EC)’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG-Mare) will visit Vietnam from May 25 to June 5 to inspect the implementation of the EC’s recommendations against IUU fishing.

The EC inspection team identifying illegal fishing in this third inspection may result in an extension of the “yellow card” or even turn it into a “red card”, meaning a ban on Vietnamese seafood exports, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Nguyen Quang Hung, Deputy Director of MARD’s General Department of Fisheries, said Vietnam has made a great deal of effort over the last three years to implement the EC’s recommendations against IUU fishing.

After two inspections in June 2018 and November 2019, the inspection team recognised the country’s commitment to having the “yellow card” removed, Hung said, but a lot of work still needs to be done regarding the installation of VMS.

The Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau possesses a fleet of some 4,925 fishing ships, including 1,665 that are longer than 15 metres and are designed for offshore fishing, which must be equipped with a VMS as stipulated by government regulations.

The province has installed VMS on some 72 percent of its ships of more than 15 metres and 86.5 percent of those longer than 24 metres, said Chau Cong Bang, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, the installation rate was 50.75 percent for those longer than 15 metres and 96.58 percent for those longer than 24 metres.

Chairman of the Ben Tre Provincial People’s Committee Cao Van Trong said the province has requested relevant authorities strictly punish vessels sailing into other countries’ waters. All ships detained by foreign countries have had their licenses revoked.

South-central Binh Dinh province, meanwhile, has a total of 3,270 fishing vessels of more than 15 metres. To date, all vessels more than 24 metres long and 89 percent of those 15 to 24 metres long in the province have been equipped with Movimar, a French fisheries satellite surveillance system.

It has accelerated inspections to identify any vessels operating without a fishing license or having its licenses expired, and will help them register or renew the license.

In central Quang Tri province, the local Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has gotten tough on violations and asked relevant authorities to prevent any ship with a length of 15 to 24 metres from cruising offshore if it does not have a VMS.

As at the beginning of April there were only 18 ships over 24 metres in length and 120 ships 15 to 24 metres in length in the province with a VMS. The low rate is largely due to the relatively high cost of a VMS, which can be up to 30 million VND (1,285 USD).

According to MARD, due to the EU “yellow card”, Vietnam’s seafood exports to the EU fell by 6.5 percent to 390 million USD in 2018 and by 11.5 percent to 345.2 million USD in 2019.

From being the second-largest import market for Vietnam’s seafood, after the “yellow card” the EU dropped to fifth and its imports have decreased from 18 percent to 13 percent of Vietnam’s total exports./