Will Vietnam's seafood pass the IUU inspection in April 2024?

VCN - The 5th inspection on combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Vietnam by the EC is scheduled for April 2024. Localities are focusing on conclusively addressing existing limitations and restrictions, with an emphasis on implementing urgent tasks and solutions, particularly by April 30, 2024.
Seafood enterprises do not purchase, process, or export IUU-violating seafood products.
Seafood enterprises do not purchase, process, or export IUU-violating seafood products.

Rectification before April 30

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), in a recent meeting in Kien Giang, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang, Head of the National Steering Committee on IUU, acknowledged the efforts of central and local agencies in implementing tasks and solutions to combat IUU fishing, rectifying existing limitations and restrictions as identified by the EC's 4th inspection team.

However, overall, there are still many existing limitations and rectifications in some localities, failing to meet the Prime Minister's and the Head of the National Steering Committee on IUU's directives, such as the situation of illegal fishing vessels and fishermen in foreign waters persisting, with complex developments; ineffective control, verification, certification, and traceability of IUU-caught seafood.

Additionally, many localities have yet to manage and control "three-no" fishing vessels; local authorities and law enforcement agencies have not fully carried out their duties and tasks in investigating, verifying, and penalizing IUU fishing activities, such as illegal fishing in foreign waters, cutting off or sending, transporting Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) equipment unlawfully, violating the fishing logbook, and fishing vessels operating in the wrong areas, resulting in limited and inconsistent outcomes among localities, failing to ensure the strictness of the law.

The 5th inspection (scheduled for April 2024) is the deadline to remove the "yellow card" warning from the EC in 2024. Therefore, the Deputy Prime Minister has requested Ministers, Heads of relevant ministries, agencies, and Chairpersons of People's Committees of 28 coastal provinces and centrally-run cities to focus on leading and directing the definitive resolution of existing limitations and current restrictions, with an emphasis on implementing urgent tasks and solutions, particularly by April 30, 2024.

Focusing on peak concentration, mobilizing resources to comprehensively implement IUU fishing prevention tasks and solutions under the directives of the Standing Secretary of the Party Committee, the Government, the Prime Minister (especially Directive No. 1058/CĐ-TTg dated November 4, 2023), conclusions of the Head of the National Steering Committee on IUU, and other relevant documents; absolutely no negligence or subjectivity; resolutely handling organizations and individuals failing to fulfill their duties and tasks assigned in the performance of duties, violating legal provisions, affecting the nation's efforts to remove the "yellow card";

Focusing on implementing effective solutions, determined to achieve the goal by April 2024 that there are no Vietnamese fishing vessels illegally exploiting seafood in foreign waters; simultaneously investigating, and prosecuting cases of violations related to intermediaries, and connections facilitating illegal fishing in foreign waters similar to the cases tried in Kien Giang province for deterrence and propaganda.

Only one criminal case was handled

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development continues to organize inspection delegations, urging, and guiding localities to carry out IUU fishing prevention tasks; leading, and coordinating with the Ministry of Public Security, Khanh Hoa Provincial People's Committee, and relevant parties to expeditiously handle one imported vessel violating as indicated by the EC following domestic laws and international practices. Comrade, the Director of the Fisheries Surveillance Department was appointed as the head of the delegation to work with Khanh Hoa province to conduct a comprehensive inspection of the vessel Havuco-02 based on the indications detected by the EC, to promptly propose a handling plan and provide the results to the EC.

Coordinating with localities to vigorously deploy appropriate measures to manage, and control the quantity of seafood caught locally, ensuring source traceability while creating favorable conditions for fishing activities of fishermen; and resolutely handling severe cases of intentional violations.

The Ministry of Public Security is implementing a peak investigation, prosecuting cases of violations related to intermediaries, and connections facilitating illegal fishing in foreign waters similar to cases tried in Kien Giang province. Kien Giang was the first province to prosecute cases of intermediaries, and connections facilitating illegal fishing in foreign waters, ensuring the strictness of the law.

Expeditiously investigating, and prosecuting organizations, and individuals involved in falsifying state documents to legitimize IUU-caught seafood exports to the EU market.

Provinces with fishing vessels detained by foreign countries, such as Kien Giang, Ca Mau, Binh Dinh, Ben Tre, Binh Thuan, and Khanh Hoa are urgently investigating, handling thoroughly cases of illegal fishing in foreign waters from the beginning of 2023 until now.

Investigating, verifying, and thoroughly handling cases of violations cutting VMS connections, sending, and transporting VMS equipment unlawfully from the beginning of 2023 until now.

VASEP, the Vietnam Tuna Association, and seafood export enterprises must seriously comply with IUU fishing prevention regulations, absolutely not purchasing, processing, and exporting IUU-violating seafood products.

By Le Thu/ Ha Thanh

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