Localities face difficulties in controlling fishing vessel operations

Localities in Vietnam have taken a number of measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing since the country received a “yellow card” warning from the European Commission (EC) in 2017.

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Staff from the Binh Dinh provincial Fisheries Department checks a monitoring device on a fishing boat before it operates offshore at Qui Nhơn fishing port in Quy Nhon city (Photo: VNA)

But experts say more work needs to be done to improve their fisheries governance and retain access to EU market.

Nguyen Cong Binh, deputy head of the Binh Dinh Fisheries Department, said by the end of July last year, the province has completed installing Movimar device – a system to monitor fishing vessels and aquatic resources by satellite technology - for all vessels with a length of 24m or more. 

Only 603 out of 3,231 boats of between 15 and 24m in length have the system installed.

In accordance with the recommendations of the EC for offshore fishing vessels to be transparent and to fight illegal fishing, the installation of monitoring equipment must be finished by the end of March, this year.

The high number of fishing boats which have not yet installed the equipment was causing difficulties for the management of vessels and traceability, Binh said.

Even after the installation completed, it was still a hard job.

“To supervise 3,300 fishing boats, there should be an adequate staff are on duty around the clock and specialists in traceability and supervision of fishing vessels. However, it is still short in demand,” he said, adding that a lot of fishing ports in the province have not yet received the software to trace the operating areas of fishing boats.

The southernmost province of Ca Mau also faces similar problems.

The monitoring systems have been installed on 55 percent of vessels of 15m in length and 88 percent of those with a length of 24m or more.

Mai Anh Nhin, Vice Chairman of the Kien Giang provincial People’s Committee said the installation of monitoring devices was an important issue but many boats did not turn on the device when going to sea.

Traceability was also an issue.

“The traceability has not met EC’s requirement for the control of product’s legality before exporting to EU market,” said Phung Duc Tien, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development at a workshop held in December on the issue.

Currently, there were 129 fishing boats in waters outside Vietnam’s territory and 69 boats in disputed areas, he said, adding that the country has explained this to the EC.

To solve the problem, Binh said the province would coordinate with other provinces and agencies to complete the installation of monitoring device and closely supervise vessels operating offshore.

The locality would strengthen the dissemination for boat owners and captains to hand in fishing records as required.

Trieu from Ca Mau province proposed the Government to issue guidance on software management and support localities in demanding vessels to install monitoring devices.

Nhin suggested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security assist provinces to stop illegal fishing by local vessels.