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“Clear out” the violating fishing vessel in October 2022 to soon get the IUU “yellow card” removed

08:53 | 17/07/2021

VCN - Nearly four years of being warned by the European Commission (EC) with a "yellow card" for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities have resulted in a sharp decrease of Vietnam's seafood exports into the EU. To get the "yellow card" removed, one of the important tasks is to completely stop Vietnamese fishing vessels violating foreign waters.

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“Clear out” the violating fishing vessel in October 2022 to soon get the IUU “yellow card” removed

Viet Nam's fishing volume has decreased, affecting reputation

On October 23, 2017, the EC warned of a "yellow card" for IUU fishing and made nine recommendations Vietnam should implement solutions to combat IUU fishing, and to soon get the "yellow card" removed. When being warned of the "yellow card", 100% of seafood shipments originating from Vietnam's catch are inspected when exporting to the EU market. If IUU fishing issues are not resolved, Vietnam will be identified as a non-cooperative country and may be subject to a "red card" measure.

Speaking at a meeting of the National Steering Committee on IUU in the morning of July 13, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said the EC's "yellow card" warning has affected seafood export volume to the EU. The current decline is 35% compared to 2017.

In addition, the US House of Representatives Tax and Finance Committee assigned the US International Trade Commission (USITC) to investigate IUU fishing seafood imported into the US and have announced the results of the investigation.

It clearly states Vietnam (along with China, Russia, Mexico and Indonesia) have exported IUU fishery products to the US market (7% of the value of Vietnam's seafood exports to the US are IUU products, equivalent to US$106 million). This could also cause negative implications for Vietnam's seafood import markets.

The leader of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also mentioned the "yellow card" warning as well as the slow and ineffective overcoming of the "yellow card" will harm the prestige, position and diplomatic relations of Vietnam and the seafood industry on regional and international forums.

"Wipe out" the offending fishing vessels

In fact, after nearly four years of implementation, the European Commission (EC) has acknowledged Việt Nam’s commitment, political determination and efforts to deal with the issue.

EC also affirmed that Vietnam has made many progress and is on the right track; recognised and highly appreciated Vietnam's goodwill, cooperation, transparency and honesty in providing information and exchanging bilateral information on work combating IUU fishing.

However, there are a number of limitations the EC pointed out. The EC's inspection team requested Vietnam to make more efforts and determination to ensure the roadmap for installing VMS fishing vessel monitoring equipment, controlling fishing vessels entering and leaving ports, and sanctioning administrative violations for IUU fishing; monitoring exploited seafood materials imported into Vietnam under the Port Country Measures Agreement (PSMA).

”It is necessary to prevent and stop the violation of Vietnamese fishing vessels and fishermen violating fishing offshore," said Deputy Minister Phung Duc Tien.

To overcome the shortcomings, limitations, create positive changes in the prevention and control of IUU fishing, and remove the "yellow card" warning soon, the leader of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said it is necessary to focus on implementing a number of immediate, urgent tasks and solutions.

Of which, strong, synchronous and drastic measures should be implemented in 2021 to reduce at least 40% of the current violating fishing boats, by October 2022, the situation of illegal Vietnamese fishing vessels violating offshore will be completely stopped.

The Ministry of National Defence shall take the prime responsibility and coordinate with relevant ministries, agencies and localities in opening a peak phase in 2021 to strengthen patrols, inspection and control activities in overlapping and not clearly marked between Vietnam and other countries.

Research and use supporting tools such as drones to improve the effectiveness of monitoring activities of fishing vessels in high-risk waters leading to violations of foreign waters.

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The Ministry of Public Security directs its subordinate units to focus on strengthening investigation and consolidation of records. In 2021, criminal charges will be filed against a number of brokers and links that bring Vietnamese fishing boats and fishermen to illegally fish in foreign waters.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development stated up to now, Vietnam has prevented and stopped the situation of Vietnamese fishing vessels violating seafood exploitation in Pacific island countries and countries.

Violations in the fisheries sector of other countries in the region like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. have decreased compared to before but is not stable. From the beginning of 2021 up to now, there have been 32 cases/53 ships seized and handled by foreign countries, compared to the same period in 2020, a decrease of seven cases/seven ships (83 cases/142 ships in 2020, 145 cases/229 ships in 2019).

The situation of fishing vessels violating the waters of other countries in the region still occurs and is still complex, especially in provinces such as Ca Mau, Binh Dinh, Ba Ria - Vung Tau, notably in Kien Giang province. Along with that, investigation and handling of acts of brokering and hooking up fishing vessels to illegally fish in foreign waters is limited because the penalty and punishment for violating fishing vessels have not been strict enough.

By Thanh Nguyen/ Minh Phuong