Fishermen carry fish into frozen area on a off-shore fishing vessel in Binh Thuan (Photo: VNA)
Vietnam was given a yellow card warning by the EC in September, 2017 for failing to progress in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. It was offered an opportunity to rectify the situation within six months.
An EC delegation visited Vietnam in May, 2018 to inspect the outcomes of measures to control IUU fishing. The "yellow card" is followed by a "green card" if the problem is resolved or a "red card" if it isn’t. A “red card” can lead to a trade ban on fishery products.
Nguyen Thi Thu Sac, head of the steering board for illegal fishing prevention of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said it is more difficult to manage aquatic materials caught in the nature compared to aquacultural products.
However, the anti-IUU fishing regulations have created not only challenges but also a turning point for the whole fishing industry to restructure itself in a systematic manner and catch up with the world’s common development trend.
She added that these regulations will help develop a more civilised and progressive fishing practice among fishermen. Meanwhile, seafood processors and exporters will be more careful about the origin of seafood materials so as to meet strict requirements of importers.
Nguyen Xuan Nam, Chairman of the Hai Vuong Co. Ltd in the central province of Khanh Hoa, said seriously complying with Europe’s requirements is a major chance to assert the prestige of Vietnamese seafood in this market as well as in the world.
Once Vietnamese seafood products meet standards and enter Europe in a legal manner, there will be huge opportunities for the country’s seafood processing and exporting sector to expand its market to other destinations.
With efforts by the Government, businesses and localities with fishing activities over the past six months, Vietnam has been carrying out the nine anti-IUU fishing recommendations given by the EC.
VASEP Secretary General Truong Dinh Hoe said his association has coordinated with enterprises and localities to raise fishermen’s awareness of keeping fishing and seafood purchase records. VASEP has also asked the Government to support fishermen more strongly in terms of infrastructure, equipment and technology to meet requirements for fishing activities and the seafood sector’s sustainability.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said localities need to review fishing boat monitoring systems and licences of fishing and seafood purchasing vessels.
The fishing industry needs to make stronger efforts and more drastic actions to soon build a responsible fisheries sector with sustainable development and integration, he added.