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Shelter areas in Truong Sa archipelago - Common homes for Vietnamese fishermen

Some of the islands in the Truong Sa archipelago have been equipped with special shelter areas considered “common homes” at sea for fishermen to stay safe amid storms and access fishery logistics services, and which also help safeguard Vietnam’s maritime sovereignty.

The boat registered NT 91007 TS from the south-central province of Ninh Thuan was among nearly 100 Vietnamese fishing vessels docked in the shelter area of Da Tay A Reef in early May to have repairs done and to get fuel, food, and fresh water.

Its captain Vo Van Du said that since shelter areas have been established in the Truong Sa archipelago, fishermen working offshore have felt more secure about being out at sea at all times.

He noted that the waters surrounding Truong Sa are the traditional fishing ground of Vietnamese fishermen, including those from Ninh Thuan. Each fishing trip usually lasts about two months.

The essential services provided have helped them save a lot of money on fuel, food, and fresh water, Du added.

Nguyen Thanh, another boat captain, said that after spending more than a month at sea, his boat docked at the shelter area on Song Tu Tay Island to gain fuel and essential goods such as food and fresh water.

The shelter area on Song Tu Tay and other islands are visited frequently by fishermen seeking fuel, other goods and services, and protection during their long journeys, he added.

Nguyen Xuan Moi, who is captain of the Da Tay 03 vessel and in charge of the Da Tay Reef fishery logistics services centre under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the centre, based at the shelter area on Da Tay Reef, supplies essential services, food, fuel, and ice for fishermen working on the fishing grounds of the Truong Sa archipelago.

The centre always offers maximum aid to boats in need of repair, he went on, saying that fishermen are also given free fresh water and medicine at the shelter area.

Lt. Col. Nguyen Dinh Dung, Commander of Da Tay A Reef, said that in 2020 and the first quarter of this year, more than 2,700 fishing boats sought assistance at the reef, which also supplies rice, fresh water, and essential goods.

The healthcare centre on Da Tay A also provided check-ups and treatment to 1,581 people, including over 1,200 fishermen.

He said Da Tay Reef has rescue vessels standing by to help boats in distress or in need of repairs at sea, adding that after being notified, vessels like Da Tay 03 and tug boats bring them to the shelter area.

Le Dinh Hai, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Khanh Hoa province’s Truong Sa district, said several shelter areas and fishery logistics services centres have been set up in the Truong Sa archipelago.

The shelter areas are a “common home” not only providing fishery logistics services and protection for fishermen but also acting as a source of spiritual support for them to maintain their presence on the Fatherland’s sacred waters, he added./.