Phan Thi Hue, head of the Legal Inspection Department under the Vietnam Directorate of Fisheries, noted that the EC will not try to remove the ‘yellow card’ regarding the detection of fishing vessels encroaching in foreign waters.
An EC report in May warned that it is likely to impose ‘a red card’ on Vietnamese seafood in the event that violations on fishing regulations are not handled in a quick manner.
The EC has therefore highlighted Vietnamese determination and efforts to gradually reduce the number of fishing vessels violating regulations regarding IUU fishing in foreign waters located in the Pacific region.
It also spoke highly of the country’s goodwill, co-operation, transparency, and honesty in providing information about the fishing vessel database, as well as issuing a legal framework in line with international standards towards sustainable and responsible fishery management and international integration.
Despite this, IUU inspection missions to several localities throughout the country have revealed that there remain inadequacies in terms of the implementation of the legal framework on fisheries as there was a high number of fishing vessels of up to 260 encroaching foreign seas from January 1, 2020, to October 15, 2020.
Nguyen Thi Thu Sac, vice president of the Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said once the EC moves to impose a ‘red card’, then Vietnamese seafood will not be allowed to enter the EU market, causing the sector to lose roughly US$380 million each year.
Furthermore, local firms will also fail to maximise the benefits from the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), and lose the European market worth US$480 million.
Moving forward, in the event that the ban lasts for between two and three years, it will cause severe disruptions to the local fisheries sector, particularly with the exploitation of aquatic products shrinking by roughly 30% in terms of output.
Tran Dinh Luan, director general of the Directorate of Fisheries, underlined the importance of enhancing management over fishing vessels due to the country having up to 90,000 fishing vessels operating at sea.
He emphasized the necessity of imposing stricter penalties against IUU fishing, while simultaneously urging seafood processing and export enterprises to refuse to illegally exploit seafood.
Sac stressed the necessity of organising an auction market in the near future as part of efforts to remove the bottlenecks for the seafood industry.