US’s monitoring programme worries Vietnamese seafood firms hinh anh 1Workers at an aquatic product processing factory (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – Many seafood businesses of Vietnam have expressed their worries when there are only more than two months left before the US’s Seafood Import Monitoring Programmes (SIMP) takes effect.

Vietnamese firms talked the issue with representatives from the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at a workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City on October 11.

Under the SIMP, the US is going to enhance monitoring the fishing and import of 13 aquatic species from January 1, 2018, namely abalone; Atlantic cod; blue crab; dolphinfish; grouper; king crab; Pacific cod; red snapper; sea cucumber; sharks; shrimp; swordfish; and albacore, bigeye, skipjack, yellowfin and bluefin tuna.

They are priority species listed in the SIMP with a view to combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud.

NOAA specialist Heather Brandon said the SIMP features requirements for the licensing, reporting and recording data about the import of some priority fish and seafood products which are assessed as vulnerable to IUU fishing or seafood fraud.

Michael Abbey, another representative of NOAA, said the SIMP regulations were set up not to cause obstacles for businesses or trade activities between the US and other countries, but to fight IUU fishing and trade fraud.

After the European Union, the US is the world’s second seafood importer applying a seafood monitoring programme to combat IUU fishing. It is one of the biggest seafood importers with its fishery product consumption valued at some 96 billion USD.

Vietnam exports about 1.5 billion USD worth of aquatic products, including 350-400 million USD of seafood, to the US every year. Therefore, the SIMP requirements are worrying many Vietnamese companies.

Nguyen Thi Thu Sac, head of the seafood committee of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said the biggest problem facing businesses is the limited time to gear up for the SIMP regulations.

She said most of fishing boats in Vietnam are small, making it hard to collect information and make reports. Complying with the SIMP is also more difficult for Vietnamese firms since many of them process and export products of various species, instead of a single species, at a time.

Seafood exports to the US are likely to decline once the SIMP takes effect, Sac noted.

At the workshop, local enterprises showed their anxiety as they hadn’t fully understood the SIMP requirements while there are too many import monitoring programmes used by the US.

They also expressed their determination to combat IUU fishing by taking part in an IUU fishing prevention programme initiated by VASEP.

As of the beginning of October, 59 businesses had committed to only purchasing seafood materials with clear origin from boats engaging in legal fishing and importing legally caught seafood.-VNA