The first steel fishing vessels built under a Government pilot project have helped fishermen enjoy bumper catches by staying longer in Vietnam’s offshore fishing grounds.

The Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (SBIC) was tasked with building steel vessels to replace tens of thousands of wooden boats nationwide, promoting offshore catch quality and the safety of fishermen.

Vu Ngoc Binh from the SBIC’s Song Dao Shipbuilding Joint Stock Company said that two of the first six steel vessels were handed to fishermen in Hai Hau district, the northern coastal province of Nam Dinh.

They measure around 25m in length and can cruise 10 nautical miles per hour.

Their holds are standardised to preserve catches longer and minimise fuel consumed, thus extending fishing trips, he said.

Each of them is equipped sufficiently for an eight-member crew to stay on board for 20 days, Binh noted, adding that fishermen can buy the ships on hire purchase under concessional terms.

Fisherman Pham Xuan Kinh, who works on one of the two steel vessels, said that his ship was bought for 5 billion VND (over 238,000 USD) at an interest rate of 0 percent.

Despite being costlier than wooden vessels, the steel one is able to operate for 30 years, three times as long, and withstand harsher weather conditions, thus helping prolong fishing trips and halving expenses, he said.

After each 10-day trip on the new vessel, his crew caught more than 1.2 tonnes of mackerel and tuna, generating some 200 million VND (9,500 USD) in revenue.

He added every trip costs 37.5 million VND (nearly 1,800 USD) while it takes up to 50 million VND (2,400 USD) for a trip by wooden vessels.

Kinh said he hopes the Government will expand the project so that fishermen like him can work in offshore waters longer and more safely, bringing about higher economic values and also affirming Vietnam’s sovereignty in the sea.

Statistics show that some 24,500 wooden fishing vessels need to be replaced with steel ones across the country.-VNA