Will the "Yellow Card" be removed in 2019?

VCN- The European Commission (EC) has warned with a "yellow card" on illegal, undeclared and unregulated fishing (IUU) against Vietnamese seafood, which strongly affects the export turnover of this commodity into the EU market. In order to be considered for withdrawing the "yellow card" by the EC in early 2019, the Agricultural and Rural Development sector has been trying to implement many solutions simultaneously.
will the yellow card be removed in 2019
It is forecasted that the seafood export into the EU will face many difficulties when the "yellow card" has not been removed. Picture: Nguyen Thanh.

The export goes down

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), in the past five years, the seafood export value of Vietnam accounted for 29-33% of total seafood export value. Overall, the seafood export continued to grow at an average annual rate of nearly 8%. Each year, Vietnam exports about 200 different species of seafood, with tuna, squid, octopus, salmon, fried fish and surimi are the products accounting for the highest proportion.

In terms of markets, it is notable that the EU is the second largest seafood export market out of 177 Vietnamese export markets. Vietnam’s seafood export value into the EU ranged from US$ 350 - 400 million in the past five years which accounted for 16-17% of the total seafood export value.

On October 23rd, 2017, the EC issued an official “yellow card” warning against IUU exploitation of Vietnamese seafood, which seriously affects exports, especially exports into the EU market. Specifically, by the end of July, Vietnam's total seafood export turnover still increased 7.4% over the same period last year. However, the growth rates of each commodity were lower, unstable, and tended to slow down over time. With the EU market, seafood export has tended to continuously slow down since Vietnam received the "yellow card". In the first seven months of this year, the seafood export into the EU reached over US$ 214.8 million, down 7.3% from the US$ 230.7 million reported for the same period in 2017. In which, crab decreased the most by 34.4%; next were molluscs with a decrease of 25.7%, the sea fish export decreased slightly at 3.3%. In particular, tuna remained with the best export growth of 22%. Currently, instead of 16-17% of total seafood export value, the seafood export value into the EU only has accounted for 12-15%.

VASEP said that the seafood export is estimated to reach US$ 1.8 billion this year. It is forecasted that the export of squid, octopus, crab and sea fish products into the EU market will decrease sharply from now until the end of the year due to the difficulties in certifying the origin of exploitation under IUU regulation. .

Regarding the review to remove the "yellow card" for Vietnamese seafood, from 16 to 24 May 2018, the Inspection Delegation of Fisheries and Marine Affairs of the EU came and worked in Vietnam. Then, on June 25, the EC sent a letter to the MARD informing the EC's comments on the contents when the Inspection Delegation inspected in Vietnam. Accordingly, the EC acknowledged the active participation of the Vietnamese Central agencies. However, the EC Inspection Delegation said that the status against the IUU exploitation in Vietnam in the localities had not improved significantly, especially the actual implementation had been very weak.

Ensure consistency between the Laws and sub-law documents

According to Mr. Pham Ngoc Tuan, Deputy Director of the Fishery Exploitation Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD): right after the EC sent the letter, the MARD has carried out many tasks such as: reviewing all the MARD's plans on carrying out the urgent tasks and solutions to overcome the EC's warning against IUU exploitation, thereby, identifying the key tasks to be implemented by December 31st, 2018 on anti-IUU exploitation as recommended by the EC.

In addition, the Ministry continues to improve the system of legal documents guiding the implementation of the Fisheries Law; focuses on building and completing the guiding document for the implementation of the Fisheries Law in 2017. Until now, the draft Decree on guiding the implementation of the Fisheries Law and the Decree on sanctioning the administrative violations have been completed on the basis of comments from relevant ministries, branches, localities and the EC recommendations. Specifically, the draft Decree on guiding the implementation of the Fisheries Law adds 7/11 recommendations of the EC recommendations; the remaining 4/11 recommendations are included in the Circular. The draft Decree on sanctioning the administrative violations includes 10 recommendations, 1 out of 10 recommendations has been dealt with in the Decree on guiding the implementation of the Fisheries Law (IUU definition); 9 out of 10 recommendations have been dealt with in the Decree on sanctioning the administrative violations (regulating on the serious violations with the highest sanctioning level, the competence to sanction serious acts, examining additional penalties, reinforcing the sanction framework for the recurrence of behaviors…)

Accordingly, by January 2019, the EC Inspection Delegation will return to Vietnam to examine and assess the status and results of the implementation of the EC recommendations against the IUU exploitation. Based on the evaluation of the delegation, the EC will consider the ability of overcoming the "yellow card" for Vietnam. Therefore, some experts emphasized that until December 31st, 2018, it is important to focus on completing the Decree guiding the implementation of the Fisheries Law and the Decree on the sanctioning violations in the fisheries sector and 9 Circulars to ensure the simultaneous effectiveness of the Fisheries Law from 1 January 2019, In addition, the establishment of a timely, smooth and efficient steering mechanism from the Center to the Localities for anti-IUU exploitation and the implementation of the EC recommendations.

Around the story of removing the "yellow card" for seafood, Ms. Le Hang, Deputy Director of VASEP.PRO (VASEP) said that the MARD should implement strong and comprehensive measures to prevent the illegal ships encroaching in foreign waters; deploy the Project on management information on fisheries in the sea phase II right in the fourth quarter of 2018 to monitor the operation of fishing vessels with length of 15 m or more. In addition, the MARD should strengthen the control of fishing vessels leaving the ports and fishing vessels at the ports; Control the production of dock fisheries in accordance with the legal regulations; In addition, one of the measures which the MARD should take is the publication of: The Vietnamese fishing industry does not use equipment to lure fishes, at the same time, the Ministry of Industry and Trade should promote and agree with the EU soon on figures as well as the quota allocation mechanism for the tuna export into the EU.

By Uyen Nhu/ BInh Minh

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