Processing seafood for export - Illustrative image (Source: VNA)

Kien Giang (VNA)
- Authorities of the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang have devised measures to minimise and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, aiming to remove the European Commission (EC)’s “yellow card” warning against Vietnamese aquaculture products.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Mai Anh Nhin affirmed the locality does not tolerate or cover up IUU fishing in domestic or international waters.

Local authorities have devised solutions to the issue, aiming to prevent and eradicate IUU fishing activities of Vietnamese and foreign organisations and individuals in Kien Giang’s  waters, he said, stressing that this not only promotes sustainable fishery development but also contributes to ensuring national and regional security.

In addition, the efforts will help end illegal fishing and exploitation by local fishing vessels and fishermen in waters of foreign countries, towards EC withdrawing its “yellow card” against Vietnamese seafood.

Strict management of IUU fishing will protect and regenerate natural aquatic resources and aquatic ecosystems, thus ensuring the safe, effective and sustainable development of fisheries, Nhin added.

Local authorities have focused on implementing Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s dispatch and directive on urgent solutions to address the EC warnings against IUU fishing and on fisheries inspection and management under the EC’s guidelines, he noted.

Nguyen Van Tam, Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said Kien Giang has worked to raise law enforcement capacity of agencies inspecting, supervising and controlling at sea, in fishing ports and markets.

Attention has been paid to addressing violating organisations and individuals to terminate illegal fishing by local vessels and anglers in foreign seas and establishing responsible mechanisms for local officials over the issue.

Specialised inspection units have been instructed to strengthen law enforcement and handle violations of fisheries law in local waters, while working with other agencies in stopping fishing ships and anglers which show signs of violating regulations related to the EC’s warning on IUU fishing.

Efforts have been made to investigate, verify, detect and handle cases of fishing vessels and anglers being sent abroad illegally to fish in foreign waters.

The locality set up an information system for the surveillance of fishing vessels operating at sea, while building a roadmap for the compulsory installation of cruise control devices on all offshore fishing vessels, which will be connected to the Kien Giang fisheries sub-department’s surveillance station on the shore.

The provincial Border Guards Command has directed its posts to strictly control fishing boats and fishermen that come in and out fishing ports and stop them from going out to sea if they lack necessary procedures, papers and equipment.

A list of fishing ships and ship-owners that violate regulations related to the EC’s warning on IUU fishing is publicised monthly. Recidivists are not allowed to fish or build new ships, and do not enjoy the State’s support policies.

The province has promoted law dissemination in the community, raising public awareness of legal provisions related to delimitation of sea areas between Vietnam and neighbouring countries, especially overlapping waters between Vietnam and other countries.

Local authorities have also worked with relevant ministries and sectors to promote diplomacy and negotiate and sign fishery cooperation agreements with other countries, enabling local fishing vessels to legally exploit international waters.

Statistics show that Kien Giang has 10,780 fishing vessels with an average capacity of 257 CV each, including nearly 4,500 offshore fishing ships.

Most of these are equipped with safety equipment in line with regulations. Kien Giang’s fisheries output is more than 545,000 tonnes per year, 16 percent of whole country’s total.

The locality has recorded a decrease of local fishing ships and anglers involved in IUU fishing. However, violations are still reported in waters of neighbouring countries, with 28 fishing boats and about 200 locals detained so far this year.

The EC issued the "yellow card" against Vietnamese aquaculture products on October 23 last year.

The "yellow card" is followed by a "green card" if issues are resolved or a "red card" if they aren’t. A “red card” can lead to a trade ban on fishery products.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development asked 28 coastal localities to strictly follow the Prime Minister’s dispatch and directive related to IUU fishing, intensify inspections and investigations on IUU fishing to stop IUU fishing in foreign waters.-VNA