Vietnam, on Dec. 3, held a conference to prepare for the implementation of strict requirements by the European Commission (EC) to prevent illegal fishing.

The new regulations are expected to take effect in January, 2010.

Speaking at the conference, chaired by the Department of Capture Fisheries and Fisheries Resources Protection (DECAFIREP) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), MARD Deputy Minister Vu Van Tam highlighted the importance of the EU market, calling for a change in awareness and management methods to meet the market’s requirement.

The EC regulation requires setting up a system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Each move to conform with the EC regulation is expected to affect Vietnamese exporters, fishermen and other workers at sea, Tam said.

Analysts in the seafood sector warned that it is difficult for Vietnam to implement the EC regulation as the country now boasts a small- and medium-sized fishery boat fleet.

According to the DECAFIREP, Vietnam now has around 130,000 fishing vessels, most of which are small-sized, and are expected to catch 2 million tonnes of aquatic products per year.

The EC regulation will make it harder for Vietnamese aquatic product processors and exporters, as they are facing a shortage of input materials.

However, the MARD is trying its best to increase EU-bound seafood exports. It has requested that local authorities tighten regulations pertaining to boat captains and entrepreneurs in seafood trading and set forth sanctions for violations.

The DECAFIREP and its local branches have to design and hold training courses for local businesses and fishermen on the deployment of the EC regulations.

The EU is now Vietnam 's largest seafood importer, buying a third of the country’s total aquatic exports. Twenty six out of its 27 EU members are now importing Vietnam ’s seafood products./.