The European Commission's (EC) yellow-card warning is an opportunity for Vietnam’s fisheries sector, the business community, and fishermen to turn into responsible and sustainable fisheries.
From October 20 to 28, a delegation from the EC will visit Vietnam to check measures against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. However, the European Union's delegation in Vietnam did not present a detailed schedule, according to a source by VIR.
Phung Duc Tien, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) cum deputy head of the National Steering Committee on Combating IUU Fishing has recently visited many coastal localities to inspect the implementation of EC’s recommendations and regulations on IUU.
The MARD has requested localities to enlarge marine conservation areas by 2030 and establish anti-exploitation and fishing zones along the coast and major estuaries. IUU fishing refers to fishing activities that are not compliant with regional, national, and international fisheries conservation or management measures.
Right after the issuance of the yellow-card warning from the EC, Vietnam has been actively focusing on drastic actions as per EC’s recommendations and regulations on IUU in order to remove the warning as soon as possible. There are three groups of solutions as follows:
The first one is institutional refinement, to keep in line with international regulations, including from the EU. This group includes reviewing and supplementing legal documents and enhancing sanctions in the revised Fisheries Law, documents, and action plans of the government.
The second one is to impose strict punishments for violations, improve the enforcement capacity of the state management system and fishermen in Vietnam, and end the situation of fishing vessels engaged in illegal fishing in the waters of other countries.
The third one is to strengthen communication, information, and training to make the system of state management of fisheries, businesses and especially the boat owners and fishermen understand about what are the measures to combat illegal unregulated fishing in practice.
In 2017, the EC issued the warning against Vietnamese fishery products exported to the EU. The decision had an impact on the country's seafood exports to the EU, which account for 16–17 per cent of the country's annual seafood export value.
In August, Vietnam saw an increase in seafood exports to the EU, up 95 per cent from last year’s period, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
Vietnam's seafood exports decreased to less than $1 billion in July after sustaining above $1 billion in a row from March to June. This trend was sustained in August with sales down to $917 million, which is 3 per cent less than the turnover for July.
Following the EC’s issuance of the warning, VASEP established an executive board and a programme titled “Seafood Enterprises’ Commitment to Combating IUU Fishing” in 2017 with many activities in companionship with the government to remove the yellow card.
The board has cooperated with various local and international parties. Specifically, the board has joined forces with localities to organise working sessions with fishermen to grasp problems in the process of combatting IUU fishing.
The association has conducted communication activities about Vietnam’s actions against IUU fishing on national and local newspapers, radio stations, and VASEP’s information systems. It has created and published brochures and videos to disseminate information on IUU to relevant stakeholders in the seafood exploitation and processing chain.
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