Vietnam Seafarers Union HCM City (VNU HCM City) officially came into existence on March 20.

The union's goal was to protect the interests of fishermen and other offshore workers, said Dr Le Tuan, head of VNU HCM City.

"We are planning to organise activities to assist our members, while collecting their opinions on how best to serve their interests, which we will submit to relevant authorities.

We will also arrange training courses," he added.

He also said the union would clamp down on boat owners who registered their vessels in other countries to bypass Vietnamese regulations.

Tuan said Vietnamese vessels were often detained in overseas ports for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of appropriate documentation.

As a result, crew members often went short of food, lost wages and could not contact their families.

He cited the recent case of the Phuc Hai 5 vessel that was detained in Indonesia. The 27 crew members had to live off food provided by local agents and other sailors.

He also said numerous seamen were unaware of their legal rights, which the union would address.

Tuan added that union officials would urge all seafarers to register with the union so that they could be legally protected.

Hanoi's Vietnam Seafarers Union was inaugurated in 2008. It also has a representative office in HCM City./.