Illegal fishing in foreign waters by Vietnamese boats has declined considerably as a result of drastic efforts to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, said an official of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung, Director of the Department for Science-Technology and International Cooperation of the MARD’s Directorate of Fisheries, made the remark at the ministry’s regular press conference on March 2, mentioning Vietnam’s remedies for a yellow card warning by the European Commission (EC) on October 23, 2017 for failing to progress in fighting IUU fishing.
The EC also proposed nine recommendations that Vietnam should immediately implement in six months (from October 23, 2017 to April 23, 2018). 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.
Dung said over the past month, the whole political system, from the central to local levels, and fishermen of Vietnam have taken drastic actions to prevent and combat IUU fishing.
There have been an array of urgent solutions, including supplementing anti-IUU fishing regulations to legal documents, enforcing the issued regulations, disseminating the solutions to fishermen and relevant parties, enhancing cooperation with coastal and island countries to prevent IUU fishing, and holding dialogues to update the EU on Vietnam’s efforts to improve fisheries management.
The official noted that the amended Law on Fisheries, approved by the National Assembly on November 21, 2017, incorporated the EC recommendations as much as possible. Regulations relevant to IUU fishing are featured in almost all chapters and articles of the law, from the chapter on general regulations to the ones on fishery resources protection, management of fishing activities, fishing boats and fishery ports, and responsibility of authorities at all levels.
To carry out the EC recommendations pending the law enforcement, competent agencies of Vietnam have made amendments and issued implementation documents in a timely manner, Dung said, adding that the Directorate of Fisheries has coordinated with the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the Vietnam Fisheries Society (Vinafish) and political and social organisations in implementing the recommendations.
Accordingly, VASEP has worked with seafood businesses to continue not buying or importing seafood fished illegally and without clear origin or those that are banned to be exploited. They also set up the principle of only buying seafood with transparent origin.
Meanwhile, Vinafish has urged its branches in coastal provinces and members to implement solutions to IUU fishing, step up communication activities, and encourage businesses and boat owners to cooperate with authorities of other countries like Brunei and Papua New Guinea in fishing, the official noted.