09:01 | 01/08/2018 Economy- Society
(VEN) - Vietnam will have to wait another six months for the European Union (EU) to consider lifting a “yellow card” restriction issued last October because of illegal fishing.
After an evaluation visit by a European delegation from May 15-24 this year, the European Commission (EC) said it would consider lifting the yellow card in January next year, as Vietnam’s fishing has shown “improvement,” according to a statement issued by the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The EC warned last year that it would ban seafood imports from Vietnam unless they did more to tackle illegal fishing carried out by Vietnamese vessels in other countries’ waters.
Vietnam currently has around 33,000 offshore fishing vessels, but only 3,000 of them, or nine percent, are equipped with satellite navigation devices, it said, adding that the high cost of installation was a constraining factor.
Though Vietnam has acted on suggestions from the EC last year to improve controls over offshore fishing in the 2017 Fisheries Law, there was still room for improvement in the actual implementation process at local provinces, the directorate said.
Vietnam ranks among the top ten seafood producers in the world and views the EC warning as an opportunity for the Vietnamese fishery sector to drive towards sustainable development.
The EC delegation recommended that Vietnam establishes a powerful steering committee for the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and develops effective coordination mechanisms at central and local levels to seriously confront the issue.
Regarding the completion of the legal framework, the delegation said that the draft decree guiding the implementation of the Fisheries Law is not comprehensive, and does not completely cover a number of regulations in the fight against IUU fishing. It suggested Vietnam and the EC engage in technical cooperation on the most effective method for implementation. In terms of administrative violations, it said sanctions must comply with international regulations, and the definition of seriousness of violations and punitive fines should be added to the draft decree. Vietnam needs to adopt a detailed plan and roadmap for installing cruise control equipment in fishing vessels of 15m or more, and ensuring the implementation of regulations on cruise control equipment as soon as the Fisheries Law takes effect on January 1, 2019. The delegation also suggested that from now until January 2019, all fishing vessels of 24m or more must be equipped with GPS-assisted cruise control equipment.
Towards sustainable development
Tran Dinh Luan, deputy general director of the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said his agency would seriously implement the EC’s instructions in order to get rid of the yellow card. In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will ask ministries, departments and coastal provinces to focus on stopping illegal fishing. Measures include improving the legal framework for fisheries, completing procedures to participate in the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Agreement on Port State Measures and the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, and investing to upgrade ports in order to meet the requirements on traceability and control of fishing vessels at ports as proposed by the EC.
The Directorate of Fisheries stressed that in the remaining months of 2018, it is necessary to focus on specific and urgent measures to closely manage and control fishing vessels, implement coordination mechanisms and speedily deal with fishing vessel owners who violate overseas waters.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong affirmed that getting rid of the yellow card for Vietnamese aquaculture products is necessary.
In 2017, Vietnam’s seafood exports to the EU reached US$1.48 billion, an increase of 21.5 percent compared to the
previous year. In particular, shrimp exports to the EU increased strongly by 44 percent. The EU overtook the US to
become Vietnam’s largest seafood buyer in 2017.