Requesting That Localities Complete the Database On Fishing Vessels as Soon as Possible (01-12-2022)

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development held a conference on September 29 to discuss solutions to overcome shortcomings and limitations in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Delegates focused on reviewing and highlighting existing issues that must be addressed immediately in the fight against IUU fishing.
Requesting That Localities Complete the Database On Fishing Vessels as Soon as Possible

Leaders from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Ministry of Transport, the General Department of Fisheries, associations, and representatives from 28 coastal provinces/cities were present.

The conference was presided over by Mr. Phung Duc Tien, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

After 5 years of being "yellow card" by IUU, the legal framework system related to the management of the fisheries industry in general, particularly the fishing sector, has been fully completed, essentially meeting the requirements of the IUU fishing industry. The documents clearly define the responsibilities of each agency, from central to local, in combating IUU fishing and international requirements. Furthermore, the Secretariat, the Prime Minister, the National Steering Committee on IUU fishing, ministries, branches, and localities have issued numerous documents directing a massive mobilization of the entire political system to fight IUU fishing. So far, the fight against IUU fishing has yielded some promising results. People's awareness and management agencies' awareness of anti-IUU fishing have increased, and the installation of cruise monitoring equipment (VMS) on fishing boats has made progress, accounting for 28,519/ 29,930 ships, up 5% from the previous year. The units also increased inspection and control of fishing vessels before leaving, exploiting at sea, and landing: there were 53 fishing ports controlled by chains, export certificates were issued, and raw materials were controlled at processing factory. 

In recent years, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Directorate of Fisheries, and functional forces have organized numerous delegations to inspect most localities and fishing ports, as well as many ships, fishing ports, and books. log records, work with local governments to organize training for fishing ports and fishermen to improve management capacity and law enforcement against IUU fishing Law enforcement forces at sea have deployed to maintain more than 30 ships, patrolling and controlling them with drones, and compiling a list of high-risk fishing vessels for monitoring and surveillance. More than 1,000 violations have been handled since the beginning of 2022, with a total fine of more than 30 billion VND.

However, there are still some limitations that must be overcome immediately, if not completely, as the risk of "yellow card" becoming "red card" is very high.

At the conference, Mr. Tran Dinh Luan, Director General of the General Department of Fisheries, pointed out a number of limitations in fleet management, monitoring, inspection, and control of fishing vessel activities, including the review, updating registration, and licensing into the national database It is worth noting that some areas now have a large number of fishing boats under 15 meters in length that lack documentation. Currently, many areas have unsatisfactory VMS installation rates, with rates as low as 90%, including Hai Phong, Nam Dinh, Ho Chi Minh City, Tra Vinh, Bac Lieu, etc.

Cruise equipment operation, and monitoring are not synchronous. Currently, 5 provinces/cities have not yet organized personnel to operate the fishing vessel monitoring system.

The situation of fishing vessels being disconnected is common; fishing vessels crossing the lower boundary are detected at sea via the VMS system, but the results of investigation and handling have not concluded, and thus the situation of fishing vessels being arrested by foreign countries has not ended. Mr. Luan pointed out that this is one of the issues that must be addressed right away.

As a result, localities must complete the application, register, and issue a fully updated license on the Vnfishbase database system as soon as possible. For localities that have not yet assigned personnel to operate the VMS system, assign personnel to be on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week to review and capture specific information and addresses for each ship that has not yet installed VMS.

Strictly handle vessels with violations in fishing, update the national software to handle violations.

Localities implement synchronous port access control to avoid the situation in which some localities strictly manage entry and exit and local fishing vessels relocate to other localities with looser management.

Localities conduct an overall review and prepare relevant documents in a systematic and logical manner in order to receive the EC's inspection team. To avoid dishonest handling of situations that affect the overall inspection results, all activities at fishing ports and wharfs continue as usual.

The trade ban will be fully applied if we get a red card

According to information presented at the Conference, the European Commission's (EC) inspection team will directly inspect Vietnam's fight against IUU illegal fishing at the end of October 2022. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is actively coordinating with other ministries, branches, and localities to rapidly implement many solutions to outstanding problems.

If the "red card" is applied, the EU trade ban will be applied entirely to fishery products. Mr. Luan emphasized that this not only has a direct impact on our country's seafood export activities, but also on Vietnam's reputation and image in the international arena.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Sac, Vice President of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and Head of the IUU VASEP Executive Board, Vietnam's seafood exports increased from $6 billion to nearly $9 billion between 2011 and 2021. Exports to the EU contribute 1 - 1.4 billion USD per year, accounting for 15-17% of total seafood export turnover.

After the EC issued a yellow card warning, Vietnam's exploited seafood exports decreased steadily for four years. After two years of being affected by the IUU yellow card, seafood exports to the EU market fell by 12%, amounting to 183.5 million USD, between 2017 and 2019. As a result, total seafood export turnover fell by more than 10%, amounting to a drop of 43 million USD. Exports to the EU fell the most in 2020 as a result of the combined effects of the IUU yellow card and the Covid epidemic. Exports will increase again by 2021 as a result of the EVFTA and the Covid-19 epidemic, which will raise export prices and increase import demand for some products, except Tra fish.

Ms. Thu Sac stated that if the red card is issued, the trade ban will entirely to fishery products. It is estimated that seafood exports to the EU will exceed 1.4 billion USD in 2022, with seafood accounting for approximately 420 million USD and aquaculture accounting for approximately 980 million USD. Thus, if the red card is issued beginning in 2023, the loss of exports to the EU alone could total 518 million USD.

If the red card remains in place for another 2-3 years, the entire industry will suffer. Specifically, the fishing and seafood processing industries will be reduced by at least 30% from current capacity, resulting in a decrease in export value, employment impact, and poverty alleviation.

In his closing remarks, Deputy Minister Phung Duc Tien urged localities to strictly implement Notice No. 302/TB-VPCP dated September 26, 2022, which summarized the conclusions of Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh, Head of the National Steering Committee at the sixth meeting of the National Steering Committee on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Executive Guidelines on Combating IUU Fishing, an anti-IUU fishing expert spoke.

In the near future, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will organize inter-sectoral working groups (Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Public Security) to conduct inspections in some areas, particularly in provinces where fishing vessels are violating fishing regulations as  illegally in foreign waters, provinces of high risk the EC's inspection team will conduct a reality check to encourage and guide the contents to be ready to receive and collaborate with the EC's inspection team.

Develop progress reports, scenarios, and plans to continue and work with the EC's Inspection Delegation as soon as possible to ensure that negative situations do not have an impact on the results of working with the EC's Inspection Team.

In addition, localities strengthen their responsibilities in general reviewing and controlling fishing vessels, completing the installation of cruise monitoring equipment quickly, and strictly implementing continuous positioning monitoring, including fishing vessels lying on the shore.

To create a deterrent, both ship owners and captains must be severely punished for violating means.

At the same time, maintaining propaganda and training on recording and submitting reports and logging logs to ensure quality content; continuing to train, training to improve professional qualifications for officials performing tasks; reviewing and consolidating existing and incomplete records; using information technology, building databases on electronic software for easy storage and management.

Localities compile lists of fishing vessels at high risk of engaging in IUU fishing; closely collaborate with localities to control provincial fishing vessels operating outside the province.

Examine, develop, and supplement mechanisms and policies to support local fishing activities, ensuring the stability of fishermen's lives and livelihoods.

Identify the commune/ward/township level as the driving force behind IUU fishing management, education, and propaganda.

Le Mai (theo

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