Officials from the European Commission are working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on Vietnam’s efforts to put paid to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing so as to boost seafood exports to Europe.
|Vietnam in efforts to remove IUU fishing ‘yellow card’, photo VNA
The goal of a working trip from October 10-18 is to evaluate Vietnam’s implementation of the European Commission (EC) recommendations on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The evaluation results will be the basis for the EU to consider the removal of its ‘yellow card’ warning, which was applied six years ago.
Vietnam has carefully prepared for this trip and expects to demonstrate the country’s determination to put an end to IUU fishing with the participation of those from all levels, from the government to the locality.
Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang chaired a teleconference with 28 coastal localities on August 29 to discuss solutions to fight illegal fishing and to make preparations for the fourth inspection.
A working delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development led by Deputy Minister Phung Duc Tien took a field trip to the northern port city of Haiphong and the south-central province of Binh Dinh in August to inspect its preparedness against IUU fishing.
Tien asked localities to closely control the entry and exit of fishing vessels at ports, and prevent unqualified fishing vessels from exploitation activities. The ministry also organised working groups to inspect, encourage, and direct localities in their efforts to combat illegal fishing.
Vietnam has been making sustained efforts to remove the yellow card. After the third inspection trip last year, the country concentrated on implementing four EC recommendations, improving a legal framework; controlling fishing vessel operations; and certifying output and tracing exploited aquatic products; as well as law enforcement.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, speaking at a conference on illegal fishing on October 7, said, “Efforts to remove the yellow card have received a great deal of attention recently and have yielded a number of positive results, as evidenced by the strengthening of the legal corridor and the improvement of institutions; technological and administrative measures to strengthen fishing vessel management; control of offshore exploitation; and severe measures to deal with violations, including criminal sanctions.”
Ending IUU fishing will help boost seafood exports, especially to the EU market. Statistics from the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) show that in the first nine months of this year, the total export turnover of seafood was $6.6 billion, a decrease of 22 per cent on-year.
Exports of aquaculture products to the EU decreased by 13 per cent from 2017 to 2019. This downward trend continued to extend further in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IUU yellow card, and Brexit. Since 2019, the EU has dropped from second to fourth in Vietnam’s seafood import markets, after the United States, Japan, and China.
Thu Tran, chief sales officer of Vinh Hoan Corporation, one of Vietnam’s largest aquatic product exporters, said, “The EU is an important export market, however, due to the impact of the yellow card, revenue from this market has fluctuated.”
“We hope that the card will be removed after this EC inspection, otherwise markets such as the US may also impose similar regulations on Vietnam’s seafood exports for illegal fishing, further negatively impacting our seafood export industry,” Tran added.
The VASEP estimated that if given a ‘red card’, Vietnam could be banned from exporting seafood products to the EU entirely.
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