Processing seafood for export (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Considerable efforts have been made by the entire political system, sectors and localities to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as required by the European Commission.

The European Commission (EC)’s "yellow card" warning for IUU fishing on October 23, 2017 changed the perception of all sector and local authorities, fishermen and enterprises on marine economic development in line with international practices.

Vietnam has achieved great strides in the work and all relevant recommendations of the EC have been legalised through the adoption of the amended Law on Fisheries.

The law regulates quotas for the first time for the fishing of migratory fish species. It also prohibits illegal fishing outside Vietnam's waters.

In addition, for imported raw materials, enterprises must also comply with requirements on food safety and hygiene control and complete documentation of origin of imported raw materials.

Many documents have been issued with the support of experts from the EU.

Acting Director General of Directorate of Fisheries Nguyen Ngoc Oai said the agency is directing coastal localities to complete the installation of satellite-positioning devices for all offshore fishing ships longer than 24 metres.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has also signed a regulation with the Ministry of Defence to control offshore fishing vessels, while coordinating with international organisations in the fight against illegal fishing, Oai noted.

To date, fishing vessels’ violation of waters of Pacific island nations have almost ceased, Oai said, adding that the inspection of offshore fishing ships has also been effective.

Statistics from the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) show 62 Vietnamese enterprises nationwide have signed commitments to combat illegal fishing and exploitation and implement relevant regulations to enable their products to be exported to Europe.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong affirmed Vietnam is determined to overcome the “yellow card", towards forming sustainable and responsible fishing.

The minister underlined the need to change fishing practices to responsible exploitation and overcome infrastructure facilities inadequacies in the industry.

It is also necessary to reorganise production, focusing on processing and restructuring ashore jobs, thus developing a sustainable maritime economy, he said.

At a recent working session between an EC delegation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the EC affirmed its willingness to share experience with Vietnam in building legal documents, plans and measures to combat IUU fishing.

The EC issued a yellow card warning to Vietnam last year, after the country failed to demonstrate sufficient progress in the fight against IUU fishing worldwide. While the measure was only considered a warning, which should not technically affect the EC’s trade policy, the Vietnamese fishing industry was concerned the yellow card would seriously harm the reputation of Vietnamese seafood. 

According to EC requirements, the Vietnamese seafood sector had to implement nine recommendations from October 23, 2017 through until April 23, 2018.

The nine recommendations included revisions 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 implementation of international rules and management measures.

The EC also wanted Vietnam to issue sanctions and increase the level of sanctions against IUU fishing, which should be written in the revised Law on Fisheries, and give concrete evidence proving Vietnam’s efforts in the fight against IUU fishing.

A working delegation of the European Commission (EC)’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries made a fact-finding trip to Vietnam late May to inspect the implementation of recommendations related to the fight against IUU fishing.

EC officials will return to Vietnam in January 2019 to evaluate once more before considering the removal of the “yellow card”.-VNA