Difficulties in removing the IUU yellow card

VCN - 75 cases of violations of fishing involving 104 vessels and 919 people have been recorded in Vietnam. This issue must be resolved or the country's IUU yellow card cannot be removed, as confirmed by the European Commission (EC).
Enterprises needs to comply with the regulations on exploitation and using materials for processing seafood. Photo: T.H
Enterprises needs to comply with the regulations on exploitation and using materials for processing seafood. Photo: T.H

This warning was given by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien at the celebration of seafood exports reaching US$10 billion on December 10. At the same time, he requested that enterprises must comply with regulations to remove the IUU yellow card in order to export sustainably.

After five years, the EC applied a yellow card to Vietnamese seafood exports to its market because they did not meet regulations against illegal fishing (IUU).

Last October, an inspection team from the EC conducted the third inspection on the implementation of recommendations in Vietnam and carried out a physical inspection at the local fishing port.

During this inspection, although the EC highly appreciated Vietnam's efforts in implementing drastic and methodical measures against IUU fishing, the inspection team said that the implementation of regulations was weak.

For example, the fleet is still large compared to the number of resources, and ship registration and registry have not been completed. It is common for fishing vessels to lose connection to the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and cross borders at sea. Inspection and handling of violations in localities are still limited. The EC confirmed that it would not remove the yellow card warning if this situation does not stop.

Assessing the actual situation, Deputy Minister Phung Duc Tien pointed out many shortcomings that need to be overcome, such as the 75 violations related to 104 ships and 919 people in 2022.

Leaders of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have warned that the IUU yellow card will continue to affect seafood exports to the EU market if it is not removed. This issue is related to the management of 91,716 fleets, of which 96% have been marked, but the remaining 4% is still a large number. Even though ships have been fitted with cruise equipment, fishermen still disconnect the equipment, making monitoring of fishing boats at sea difficult.

The management of the fishing fleet must have a location, turn on the cruise monitoring device, and have a logbook. However, in reality, some fishermen often only have a logbook. In addition, the number of ships that must dock at the wharf system is low and difficult to manage. Ships are mainly parked at family wharves and temporary wharves, so when they go fishing, border guards and the fishing port management authority cannot control them, increasing the risk of violations.

In addition, the handling of violations in fishing is not strict. Some provinces impose sanctions, while others do not or only make minutes.

It is expected that in April 2023, the EC will conduct the next inspection on the implementation of the IUU yellow card in Vietnam. Thus, Vietnam only has six months to resolve the shortcomings in the EC recommendations.

Recently, the Prime Minister had an online meeting with leaders of 28 coastal provinces and ministries and agencies on removing the IUU yellow card. The Prime Minister assigned the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to urgently develop a 180-day program and action plan to implement the EC's recommendations on removing the yellow card.

“This is an important time - the "sprint" phase, deciding whether the fisheries industry can remove the yellow card after five years of efforts. Therefore, it is necessary to take drastic action and well implement the recommendations of the EC," Deputy Minister Phung Duc Tien stressed.

Seafood exporters are concerned about the ongoing IUU yellow card. Nguyen Thi Thu Sac, director of Hai Nam Co., Ltd. said that the EU market is an important export market for Vietnamese seafood. She hopes that relevant units will overcome the EC's recommendations and remove the yellow card as soon as possible to increase exports to the EU market, especially in the current difficult period.

By Lê Thu/Thanh Thuy

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