Sustainable development of fisheries connecting closely with fisheries resources conservation (25-12-2020)

On 12 December 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) coordinated with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to organize a conference on summarizing a Program of Protection and Development of Fisheries Resources (according to the Decision No.188/QĐ-TTg dated in February 13, 2012) and a master plan on a system of Vietnam's marine protected areas to 2020 (approved by the Decision No.742/ QĐ-TTg dated in May 24, 2010).
Sustainable development of fisheries connecting closely with fisheries resources conservation

Attending the conference were representatives of the MARD, other ministries, Directorate of Fisheries (D-Fish), Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARDs) of coastal provinces. There were also representatives of marine protected areas (MPAs), experts, international nature conservation organizations. Mr. Phung Duc Tien, Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development chaired the conference.

Over the past years, the Fisheries sector has made strong strides, which became a key economic sector of the country and Vietnam’s fisheries have been one of the leading seafood exporters in the world. In the period of 2010 - 2020, an average growth rate of fisheries export turnover were 6.1% per year. In 2019, the total fisheries production reached 8.15 million tons, included 3.77 million tons of captured fisheries and 4.38 million tons of aquaculture. Fisheries export value reached USD 8.6 billion. This sector has made an important contribution to the country's socio-economic development, improved livelihoods, and created jobs for over 4 million people, especially, for the residential communities who depend on  aquatic resources in coastal and inland provinces.

At the conference, according to the report of the Directorate of Fisheries, over the past years, people's awareness of protection and development of aquatic resources has been improved dramatically. Regeneration of fisheries resources has been implemented regularly and effectively by all management levels from central to local levels. The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha coordinated with D-Fish and localities to carry out a series of stocking fish seeds at provinces, that has received a positive response from a large number of people. Law enforcement has been joined drastically by functional forces, contributing to minimize and end the use of fishing gears and facilities prohibited.

Up to now, the MARD and local authorities established and put into operation 12 marine protected areas: Bach Long Vi (Hai Phong city), Con Co (Quang Tri province), Cu Lao Cham (Quang Nam province), Ly Son (Quang Ngai province), Nha Trang Bay (Hon Mun) of Khanh Hoa province, Hon Cau (Binh Thuan province); Phu Quoc (Kien Giang province) (currently Phu Quoc MPA belongs to the Phu Quoc National Park), Co To - Dao Tran (Quang Ninh province); Bai Tu Long National Park (Quang Ninh province), Cat Ba (Hai Phong city), Nui Chua (Ninh Thua province), Con Dao (Ba Ria - Vung Tau province).

In recent years, the MARD has developed a detailed plan, handing it over to the People's Committees of provinces to approve establishment of 4 protected areas: Hon Me (Thanh Hoa province), Nam Yet (Khanh Hoa province), Phu Quy (Binh Thuan province), Hai Van - Son Tra (Da Nang - Thua Thien Hue provinces).

However, at present, the domestic state and international context are having lots of changes, climate change and sea-level rise have profoundly impacted on fisheries and aquaculture production and protection of fisheries resources. Wide and deep integration of international economy with many free trade agreements signed has created opportunities for the fisheries sector to expand its export market, but also posed challenges and competition in international markets. Along with that, in term of marine capture fisheries, the countries in the region of East Seas have intensified their patrol at sea, handled illegal infringement of foreign fishing vessels.

The Fisheries Law passed in 2017 by the 14th National Assembly of Viet Nam stipulates that the exploitation of aquatic resources must be based on the reserves of the resources, conneting closely with protection and development of aquatic resources. The State has also placed the importance of conservation and development of fisheries resources in development of national economy. Reports presented at the conference focused on marine resources assessment, solutions to expand a system of marine protected areas and practical experiences from localities in management, conservation, restoration and regeneration of aquatic resources.

Participants said that for the past 10 years, the Program on protection and development of fisheries resources has achieved good results. But a planning of system of marine protected areas in Vietnam has difficulties in implementation. The violations of the law related to fishing and conservation of aquatic resources still occur including use of prohibited fishing gears in some places. Restructure of fishing profession and change in jobs for fishermen have been still slow. Effectiveness of management of MPAs has been limited.

Vice Minister Phung Duc Tien said that results achieved in the past 10 years have significantly contributed to maintanance and protection of ecosystems and fisheries resources, especially endangered, precious and rare aquatic species that have economic and scientific value. Such the results also has made contribution to get a goal of sustainable development of the fisheries sector, improve income of fishermen community. In the period of 2010 - 2020, production value of the fisheries sector had an average growth rate of 5.2% per year. Per capita income increased 2.5 times. An average growth rate of fisheries export turnover was 6.1% per year.

In order to achieve a goal of fisheries restructure and development towards sustainability and value enhancement, it is necessary to make a general assessment for summarizing and building a strategy of fisheries development, a program of protection and development of fisheries resources and Planning of MPAs in the near future.

Sharing experiences in conservation of aquatic resources, delegate from a Fisheries Sub-Department of An Giang province said that the province formed a model of aquatic resources conservation on Hau river combining with tourism. An Giang province has also coordinated well with the Buddhist Sangha of the province in annually stocking and regenerating resources, which was supported by the people and improved their awareness of fisheries resources protection. According to a Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Quang Ninh province, the  provincial authorities issued an instruction on strengthening of fishing management, protection and development of fisheries resources within Quang Ninh province. Hotlines to strictly handle violations in fishing has also been set up. In addition, the province has focused on propaganda and guiding people to know legal regulations and helping people sign commitments in protection of aquatic resources.

Concluding the conference, Mr. Phung Duc Tien highly appreciated results achieved from implementation of protection of fisheries resources in several provinces. He also pointed out the challenges facing the fisheries sector in general and the protection and development of fisheries resources in particular. Awareness of the majority of people has been still limited. In some provinces, economic development, especially marine tourism, has not been connected closely with development and conservation of aquatic resources. Fisheries resources are decreasing dramatically. There are still conflicts of interest between sectors.

In the coming time, Mr. Phung Duc Tien asked to pay attention to amendment and completion of legal documents on protection and development of fisheries resources. A plan of protection and exploitation of fisheries resources in the period of  2021 – 2030 and a plan of a system of fishing ports and storm shelter anchorages by the year 2020, with a vision to 2030 must be implemented synchronously and effectively. Well-implemented conservation and development of aquatic resources is the mission of both the MARD and the fisheries sector to achieve the goals of a Strategy on sustainable development of marine economy to 2030, with a vision to 2045, including increase in total area of ​​marine and coastal protected areas to at least 6% of the natural area of ​​the national seawater. Regeneration of aquatic resources needs to be effectively implemented. Fishing activities violating a law must be detected timely and strictly handled. It is necessary to strengthen communication on protection of fisheries resources, to carry out investigation, assessment of fisheries resources and manage marine resources in the direction of approaching co-management./.

                                                                                       Nam Anh

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