Can Vietnam's Fisheries Pass the IUU Inspection in April 2024?

VCN - The upcoming fifth inspection by the European Commission (EC) on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Vietnam, set for April 2024, has prompted local authorities to intensify efforts to address existing challenges and limitations. They are prioritizing the execution of critical tasks and solutions from now until April 30, 2024, to meet the stringent requirements.
PM orders ensuring resources for IUU fishing combat PM orders ensuring resources for IUU fishing combat
Improve the efficiency of fisheries management at fishing ports to soon remove the IUU Improve the efficiency of fisheries management at fishing ports to soon remove the IUU "yellow card"
Can Vietnam's Fisheries Pass the IUU Inspection in April 2024?
Seafood enterprises are mandated to avoid purchasing, processing, or exporting seafood products involved in IUU activities.

Violations have to corrected before the April 30 deadline

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) highlighted that, in a recent gathering in Kien Giang, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang, who leads the National Steering Committee on IUU, recognized the diligent efforts of both central and local entities in implementing strategies to curb IUU fishing. This was in response to the shortcomings identified by the EC during its fourth inspection.

Despite these efforts, several regions continue to grapple with unresolved challenges and fall short of the expectations set by the Prime Minister and the IUU Steering Committee. Persistent issues include ongoing illegal fishing activities in foreign waters, inadequate control over the certification and traceability of seafood origins, and a lack of effective management of vessels engaged in IUU fishing. Furthermore, local enforcement agencies have not fully executed their responsibilities in investigating and penalizing IUU activities, such as illegal fishing, misuse of vessel monitoring systems (VMS), and violations related to fishing logs and zones. This has resulted in limited success, inconsistency across different areas, and weakened enforcement of maritime laws.

The fifth inspection in April 2024 represents a pivotal opportunity for Vietnam to address the EC's "yellow card" warning. Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang has called on ministers, department heads, and leaders of coastal provinces to concentrate on addressing these challenges through decisive leadership and the implementation of urgent tasks and solutions by the April 2024 deadline.

There is a push for a focused and coordinated approach to implement measures against IUU fishing, aligning with directives from the Party Central Committee, the government, and the Prime Minister, notably Directive No. 1058/CĐ-TTg dated November 4, 2023. This includes stringent action against those failing to perform their public duties or violating legal standards, which impacts the national objective to eliminate the "yellow card" status.

Efforts are underway to ensure that no Vietnamese fishing vessels are engaged in illegal activities in foreign waters by April 2024. This includes prosecuting legal violations related to the illegal coordination of fishing activities, exemplified by a case previously adjudicated in Kien Giang province for its deterrent effect.

To date, only a single case of legal violation has been addressed

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is spearheading inspection teams to monitor and encourage local compliance with IUU fishing regulations. Collaboration with the Ministry of Public Security and relevant local authorities is essential in resolving identified violations, such as the case of the Havuco-02 vessel, in accordance with both domestic and international standards.

Efforts are also focused on managing and controlling the seafood supply chain to ensure traceability and compliance with IUU regulations, while also supporting the livelihoods of local fishermen. The Ministry of Public Security is tasked with investigating and prosecuting related legal violations, reinforcing the seriousness of the law.

Immediate action is required to address fraudulent activities, such as the forgery of state documents to legitimize the export of IUU fishing products to the European market. Provinces with a history of detentions for illegal fishing activities are urged to conduct thorough investigations and resolve these issues promptly.

VASEP, the Vietnam Tuna Association, and seafood exporting companies are under strict instructions to adhere to IUU fishing regulations, explicitly avoiding the trade of IUU-infringing products. This collective effort underscores Vietnam's commitment to sustainable fishing practices and its aim to successfully navigate the EC's inspection in April 2024.

By Le Thu/Tran Minh

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