Ship owners and captains are requested to turn on satellite-positioning devices (Movimar) round the clock when going fishing offshore. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA)
– The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has sent a document to People’s Committees of coastal provinces and cities, requesting ship owners and captains to turn on satellite-positioning devices (Movimar) round the clock when going fishing offshore.

It was the latest move by the MARD to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in an effort to have European Commission (EC)’s “yellow card” lifted on Vietnamese seafood.

All fishing boats with a total length of 15 metres or above must be equipped with a satellite-positioning device which must be switched on for 24 hours a day and connected to monitoring centres run by local Fisheries Departments, according to the MARD.

The ship owners and captains who fail to comply with this regulation will get strict penalties.

The ministry also asked the municipal and provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development to review and record the number of Movimar devices being used by fishing vessels and those being damaged or lost. The fishing vessels will have their devices repaired or replaced if necessary.

On October 23, 2017, the EC issued a "yellow card" warning to Vietnam, after the country failed to demonstrate sufficient progress in the fight against fishing worldwide. Though the measure was considered a warning, which would not technically affect the EC trade policy, the Vietnamese fishing industry was concerned that the yellow card would seriously harm the reputation of Vietnamese seafood worldwide, thus weakening sales. 

According to EC’s requirement, the Vietnamese seafood sector had to implement nine recommendations in six months from October 23, 2017, to April 23, 2018.

The nine recommendations included revision 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.

As the yellow card could affect the reputation and trade of Vietnamese seafood in the European and global markets, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and businesses have also made every effort to cooperate with authorised agencies and with one another to fight IUU fishing over the last six months.

“Thanks to such drastic measures, the number of fishing boats and fishermen caught fishing illegally on foreign waters reduced sharply. Particularly, zero case of boats going illegal fishing in foreign waters of Pacific island nations was reported,” said Deputy Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan, adding that breaches are only found at disputed waters as the boundaries in these areas have yet to be fixed.

A working delegation from the EC Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries will visit Vietnam from May 16 to 23 to inspect the country’s implementation of the EC’s nine recommendations related to the fight against IUU fishing.

After the inspection, the EU will give its final decision over whether it seeks to withdraw the “yellow card” from Vietnamese offshore seafood.-VNA