The EC’s issuance of a ‘yellow card’ has seriously harmed seafood export businesses and fishermen have suffered heavy losses from the warning.
EU yellow card matter dominates seafood businesses
Cao Thi Kim Lan, director of Binh Dinh Seafood Joint Stock Company (Bidifisco) says a sense of deep loss has been felt throughout the company since EC issued a ‘yellow card’ warning against Vietnam. In the six months since the warning was deliviered, Vietnam’s seafood industry has faced a number of difficulties when seeking entry to the EU market.
Every year, the company exports aquatic products worth about US$60 million (tuna makes up 75% of the total output), with 70% exported to the EU market. Vietnamese businesses have suffered heavy losses from the warning. So far, the company has committed to saying no to trading in illegally exploited seafood products, says Ms Lan.
Ms Lan notes that businesses find it difficult to access the fishing logs of fishermen, leading to late confirmations, and causing difficulties in the preparation of documents for export. State agencies stipulate that fishermen submit their fishing logs to the fishing port, she says.
Nguyen Hoai Nam, vice general secretary of VASEP says, the issuance has affected the export situation. The US Department of Agriculture’s supervision program has applied to 13 types of products. In 2019, the program will apply to shrimp and Vietnamese shrimp will face a number of challenges and risks from the program, notes Mr Nam.
Several seafood processing businesses also shared the viewpoint and highlighted the efforts at all levels and associations having the yellow card withdrawn. Vietnam’s seafood industry expects that the yellow card will be rescinded as scheduled or in the short-term.
Efforts to withdraw the EU yellow card
According to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Vietnam has recently focused on taking drastic measures in accordance with 9 EU recommendations, under which businesses will gradually develop the fishing industry in a responsible and sustainable manner, following international regulations.
The Government has agreed to set up an inter-disciplinary working group and assign the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to direct localities and related parties in implementing national action plans to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, emphasizes Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong.
In fact, during the implementation of EC recommendations, relevant agencies have gradually perfected the legal framework towards the sustainable management and exploitation of fishing resources by improving the supervision of fishing vessels, organizing patrols and controls at sea to reduce and abolish IUU fishing in territorial waters abroad.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan says, Vietnam has made great strides to secure the rescission of the EU yellow card within six months or in the short-term future, noting that the country will not let the incident affect Vietnam-EU relations in the coming time.
Mr Tuan says a high-level delegation from the EU will arrive in Vietnam to carry out an assessment of the exact situation. Therefore, businesses are urged to respond to the warnings and act on the recommendations set forth by the EC, especially in the implementation of the rule of origin and eliminating illegal fishing.
According to information from Vietnam Television, all of the seafood products from a vessel owned by Mr Vu Dieu Hien in Lap Le commune of Thuy Nguyen district in Hai Phong have been consumed on the domestic market. Mr Hien says if Vietnamese seafood is not permitted for export to the EU, all fishermen will be affected.
All fishery products will be sold on the domestic market, leading to a sharp decline in the price of seafood products. Therefore, fishermen are urged to take responsibility in the effort to overcome the limitations when exploiting aquatic products in a manner which will avoid further warnings.
In Thanh Hoa province, three representative offices have been set up at the fishing ports of Hoa Loc, Lach Hoi, and Lach Bang to inspect and control the fishing boats’ activities. The offices will conduct the inspection and management of fishing vessels when leaving and returning to the ports.
In addition, many of the owners of fishing vessels have increased their efforts to keep detailed records and provide fishing logs to the relevant agencies when docking at Tho Quang fishing port.