The cooperative groups were set up in 2012 with a view to sharing experience, helping fishermen sell products, and minimising risks at sea.
Many fishermen said the cooperative groups have brought about practical benefits. Through the groups, they share information about fishing grounds, support their peers with fishing tools and fuel, and help one another avoid risks during long offshore trips, thereby raising productivity and ensuring stable income for group members like boat owners and the crew.
As a result, cooperative groups have attracted fishermen, boat owners, fishery logistics providers, and seafood buyers.
There are more than 60 fishing and fishery logistics cooperative groups in Dong Hai district at present.
Lam Van Luom resides in Ganh Hao town and has fished at sea for more than three decades. He said before joining the cooperative groups, fishermen like him had to work on their own and needed dozens of days to find fishing grounds. Their boats also quickly ran out of fuel and supplies after starting to fish, forcing them to return to the mainland.
Heading back to the mainland took much time and reduced profits, he said.
However, everything has changed since he became a member of a cooperative group, he said, adding that when one boat in the group detects fish, it will notify other vehicles in the same group. If it runs out of fuel, it will get help from other boats.
Luom said members of his group have done well and rarely suffered from losses like they did in the past.
Nguyen Truong Han, head of the agriculture and rural development division of Dong Hai district, said such cooperation models have developed strongly in Bac Lieu recently. It has encouraged fishermen to fish farther off the coast as they can deal with risks at sea together.
Alongside fishing cooperative groups, similar groups which provide fisheries logistics services and buy seafood at sea have also flourished.
Nguyen Dang Tuan, a fisherman in Ganh Hao town, said thanks to logistics cooperative groups, fishing boats don’t have to bring seafood back to the mainland anymore but can sell products at sea. Fuel, tools and basic supplies are also provided in fishing grounds thousands of nautical miles offshore where boats are working. That has cut costs and helped their fishing trips be uninterrupted.
According to the agriculture and rural development division of Dong Hai, cooperative groups in this district have attracted nine vehicles providing fisheries logistics services and purchasing seafood at sea. As a result, most of the haul has been sold offshore, thus slashing expenses and raising profits.
Lt. Col. Nguyen Van Binh, head of the border guard station of Ganh Hao town, said cooperative groups now not only help maximise economic benefits but also unite fishermen. As group members, they assist each other to avoid and cope with unexpected risks during fishing trips. Notably, with longer offshore trips, fishermen can also assist authorised agencies to protect the country’s marine sovereignty.
To improve the effectiveness of the cooperative group model, local authorities are going to create favourable policies to promote the foundation of more groups, according to Vice Chairman of the Dong Hai district People’s Committee Nguyen Xuan Thuy.
Once fishermen join in such groups and gain profits, they contribute to the wealth of not only their own families but also of the nation while playing an important role in safeguarding the Fatherland’s sacred sovereignty, he added.