Illustrative image (Source: moitruong.net.vn)

Binh Thuan (VNA) – The south central coastal province of Binh Thuan has joined hands in the nation’s efforts to fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing so as to have the European Commission (EC)’s “yellow card” warning removed.

On September 5, a training conference was held for local dissemination officials and the local radio and television station by the Ministry of Information and Communication’s Department of Grassroots Information and the provincial Department of Information and Communication in Phan Thiet city.

Deputy head of the Department of Grassroots Information Le Huong Giang said that effectively-controlled fishing will help maintain aquatic resources and ecosystem, ensure sustainable development of the fishery sector, increase people’s living conditions and maintain national security in sea areas.

Deputy head of the Directorate of Fisheries’ Department of Aquatic Resource Conservation and Development Pham Ngoc Tuan stated that from now until December 31, Vietnam has to focus on several main solutions to address the “yellow card” warning, including the establishment of an effective management mechanism from central to local levels that enforces policies against IUU fishing, and the intensified supervision over fishing vessels which are able to conduct IUU fishing in foreign waters.

Tuan stressed the need to revoke Movimar satellite geo-positioning devices installed in fishing vessels of below 24 metres in length and install them in those of 24 metres and over in length.

Ship owners are asked to open Movimar devices around the clock, he added.

Meanwhile, Giang highlighted the importance of intensifying disseminations to encourage fishermen to stop IUU fishing and strictly obey Vietnamese and international laws.

The EC issued a yellow card warning to Vietnam last year, after the country failed to demonstrate sufficient progress in the fight against IUU fishing worldwide. While the measure was only considered a warning, which should not technically affect the EC’s trade policy, the Vietnamese fishing industry was concerned that the yellow card would seriously harm the reputation of Vietnamese seafood worldwide, and thus weakening sales.

To address IUU fishing activities, the EC evaluates exporting countries. Countries that fail to meet EC standards are issued a "yellow card" warning, followed by a "green card" if issues are resolved or a "red card" if they are not. A red card can lead to a trade ban on fishery products.

According to EC requirements, the Vietnamese seafood sector had to implement nine recommendations in six months from October 23, 2017 through until April 23, 2018.

The nine recommendations included revisions of the legal framework to ensure compliance with international and regional rules, applicable to the conservation and management of fisheries resources; ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of the country’s revised laws; and strengthening the effective implementation of international rules and management measures.

The EC also wanted Vietnam to issue sanctions and increase the level of sanctions against IUU fishing, which should be written in the revised Law on Fisheries, and give concrete evidence proving Vietnam’s efforts in the fight against IUU fishing.

A working delegation from the EC’s General Directorate for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries visited Vietnam from May 16-24 to inspect the country’s implementation of these recommendations. However, Vietnam failed to carry out all nine recommendations well.

The EC inspectors will return to Vietnam in January 2019 to review the country’s progress in addressing its “yellow card” warnings.–VNA