Community-based groups help prevent illegal fishing hinh anh 1Fishermen takes a tuna from their vessel in the coastal central province of Khanh Hoa (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - Community-based groups in recent years have been helping protect marine environments and aquatic resources by detecting and preventing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the central region.

According to the Directorate of Fisheries, a community-based group consisting of households and individuals living and benefiting from aquatic resources in an area has been voluntarily participating in protecting aquatic resources and combating IUU fishing in the area. They are recognised by local State agencies.

Data from the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development shows that since 2019, Ha Tinh province has 15 community-based groups, Binh Dinh four, Binh Thuan three while the provinces of Quang Ngai, Quang Nam, Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen are setting up the groups.

A representative of Ha Tinh province’s Division of Fisheries said the 15 community-based groups, with a total of 1,654 members, have been tasked with the protection of aquatic resources over 1,564 of sea.

The community-based groups have coordinated with coastal border stations to handle dozens of IUU fishing each year, he said.

“The IUU fishing has decreased thanks to the support of the community-based groups,” he said.

Fishing vessels no longer use destructive fishing methods or encroach on foreign waters like before, he added.

In Binh Dinh province, there are four community-based groups recognised by the People's Committee of Quy Nhon city so far.

The community-based groups are told to protect aquatic resources in 46,134 ha of sea and develop sustainable livelihoods associated with ecotourism development.

After the community-based groups were set up, the local coral reef ecosystem has been initially restored. Coral coverage has reached 75.6 percent in Bai Dua Beach; 44.3 percent in Hon Kho Island; 31.8 percent in Hon Nhan Beach; and 23.1 percent in Bai Truoc Beach.

In Quang Ngai province, Ho Trong Phuong, director of the provincial Agriculture and Rural Development said that although there is no official community-based group, the provincial has run volunteer groups to protect and conserve sea turtles on Ly Son Island and release nearly 10,000 aquatic breeds in reservoirs, rivers and coastal waters.

The group has also supported establishing 299 fishing teams, 12 fisheries unions and eight offshore fishing and service cooperatives, he said.

By participating in the teams, unions and cooperatives, the local fishermen have shared responsibility for the protection of aquatic resources with the authorities, he said.

Phuong said the province will officially promote the establishment of the community-based groups soon, contributing to removing the yellow card of the European Commission.

In Binh Thuan province, Huynh Quang Huy, head of the provincial Division of Fisheries said the province found 373 violations of IUU fishing last year. The violators had to receive a total fine of 3.8 billion VND (163,400 USD).

In the first six months of this year, 94 violations on IUU fishing have been found. The violators were fined a total amount of 1.7 billion VND (73,100 USD).

Huy said the violations were discovered thanks to the great contribution of the community-based groups.

He also said that it is important to choose a reputable, enthusiastic and experienced person to lead the community-based group, the division said.

It will help the operation of the community-based groups to work effectively, he said.

Tran Dinh Luan, head of the ministry's Directorate of Fisheries, said the role of the community-based group in protecting aquatic resources and fighting against IUU fishing is really important.

Thanks to the establishment of the community-based groups, many IUU violations are detected and prevented, contributing to saving the increasingly-depleted coastal aquatic resources, he said.

The community-based groups also help State agencies and local authorities to manage and exploit aquatic resources in a sustainable direction, he said./.