Recently, 28 coastal provinces and centrally-run cities of Vietnam have strictly complied with the Government’s directions on thoroughly handle violations on IUU fishing prevention and control regulations, and geared up for the last examination.

"Combating IUU fishing is a condition we must meet so as for Vietnamese seafood products to have a better market share in Europe in the future,” said Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

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Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that currently, there are three difficulties and problems that Vietnam must deal with to implement the EC’s recommendations. The first one is fishing vessels’ violations of foreign waters, the second is the situation of vessels’ deactivation of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), and the last one is that Vietnam still has boats that are not registered and checked and, have no exploitation licenses.

“These are the three major causes behind fishermen’s legal violations. The issue of vessels’ turning off the VMS is among the EC’s concerns as it asserts that there is no reason that Vietnam cannot deal with this problem,” according to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan.

As a coastal locality, the southern province of Ba Ria - Vung Tau and its Vung Tau city in particular have rolled out various measures to cope with the existing problems following the recommendations given by the EC delegation in 2023.

Tran Thi Thu Huong, Head of the Division for Economic Affairs of the Vung Tau People’s Committee, said that currently, 98.4% of local fishing vessels with a length of 15m and above have installed VMSs, and the remainders are not operating.

In the south-central province of Ninh Thuan, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Trinh Minh Hoang said that the locality has issued a plan to implement urgent tasks and solutions to combat IUU fishing, which comprises five major tasks and three groups of solutions to ensure that all fishing activities are legal.

Coastal localities in the south have also held many meetings with fishermen to enhance their awareness of IUU fishing prevention and control with the hope of completing all criteria for the upcoming decisive examination.

In Ba Ria - Vung Tau, the border guard force has also organised meetings with more than 200 offshore fishermen to encourage them to sign commitments with the administration and leaders of the provincial fisheries sector to strictly implement IUU prevention and control regulations in 2024.

“The border guard force has inspected and closely controlled the movement of fishing vessels at ports. Vessels that fail to show enough documents will not be allowed to go to the sea for fishing,” said Sen. Lieut. Col. Nguyen Van Khanh, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Border Guard Command of Ba Ria - Vung Tau province.

Meanwhile in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan, offshore fishermen have actively gathered together to share knowledge on IUU fishing prevention and control regulations, and formed groups of offshore fishing vessels to support each other in unexpected circumstances at sea.

Huynh Quoc Viet, Chairman of the People’s Committee of southern Ca Mau province, said that over the years, the locality has stepped up the application of information technology and digital transformation achievements into verifying and certifying the origins of exploited seafood. Thanks to these efforts, Ca Mau has controlled 100% of fishing vessels going in and out ports through 10 existing border control stations in the province, while establishing nine additional inspection and mobile control posts at seaports without border control stations.

At the same time, violations have been detected and handed with the joint efforts of the whole political system, striving for a sustainable fishery sector.

Government’s high determination in completing legal framework for IUU fishing combat

As part of the efforts to prepare for the final examination, the Government has issued Decree No.37/2024/ND-CP on adjustments and supplements to a number of articles of Decree No 26/2019/ND-CP detailing a number of regulations in the Fisheries Law and Decree No.38/2021/ND-CP on administrative punishments in the field of fisheries, which replaced Decree No. 42/2019/ND-CP on regulations on administrative sanctions in the field of fisheries. This demonstrated the Government’s high determination in completing the legal framework regarding IUU fishing prevention and control following the EC’s recommendations.

According to Duong Van Cuong, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance, Decree No.37/2024/ND-CP and Decree No.38/2021/ND-CP have amended and supplemented many legal regulations to ensure that they are more suitable and meet the recommendations and requirements of the EC in the fourth inspection.

For Decree No.37/2024/ND-CP, the most important point is the addition of Article 70a after Article 70. The Government has stipulated contents to manage exploited seafood imported into Vietnam and provided for processing factories and then exported to markets, including the European market. Vietnam is determined to control aquatic raw materials imported into Vietnam to ensure that all products entering Vietnam do not violate IUU fishing regulations. Any product entering processing factories and provided for other markets must be certified that its origin is transparent and it is not an IUU-violating product.

In Decree No.38/2021/ND-CP, the Government adjusted fines and increased additional sanctions against serious violations of IUU fishing regulations. The fines are higher than those in Decree No.42/2019/ND- CP.

Decree No.37/2024/ND-CP took effect on May 19, and Decree 38/2021/ND-CP came into force on May 20.

“Currently, the border guard force is coordinating closely with the coast guard and naval forces as well as the local fishery control forces and fishery sectors to increase the frequency, duration, and forces for registration, inspection and control and ensure that 100% of fishing vessels operating at sea are strictly inspected, controlled and managed," said Vu Van Hung, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Border Guard Command under the Ministry of National Defense.

On April 10, 2024, the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat issued Directive No.32-CT/TW on strengthening the Party’s leadership over IUU fishing prevention and control and promoting the sustainable development of the fisheries sector. The document mobilizes the engagement of the whole political system in the process of leading and directing the IUU fishing prevention and control. As a result, the IUU fishing combat has received the thorough direction from the Party and State. The current problem is how Vietnam can show the inspection team from the EC that the country’s efforts do not stop at the promulgated institutions but the actions of localities in reality.

Source: VNA