|Mr. Nguyen Quang Hung, Deputy Director General of the General Department of Fisheries|
On October 27, 2021, the Directorate of Fisheries had an online meeting with the EC to evaluate the implementation of the EC’s recommendations on combating IUU fishing, moving towards removing the “Yellow Card” of IUU. How does the EC view the results that Vietnam has achieved?
Through the online meeting, the EC continued to affirm that Vietnam has made great efforts, with very specific attention and direction from the National Assembly, the Government, the Prime Minister and ministries and branches.
Among the four groups of EC recommendations, the first is legal, the EC side highly appreciates the changes of Vietnam. Recently, the revisions in the legal framework have all been sent to the EC, basically the EC strongly agrees with the revised contents.
The second group is about management, monitoring and supervision of fishing vessels. In the recent period due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the monitoring and control of fishing vessels encountered many difficulties. The number of fishing vessels going to exploit decreased.
Most notably, with the traceability group, goods exported to the EU market have had a very low level of errors and returns compared to previous years. Vietnam is doing relatively well in this content.
Finally, with the law enforcement team, the provinces are now also very active on the basis of propaganda and guidance for fishermen. For cases of violation or recidivism, localities also strengthen sanctioning to quickly end the situation of violations in exploitation, especially violations of exploitation in foreign waters.
Besides the results achieved, what are the remaining issues that the EC side should pay attention to promote further in the near future, sir?
Besides recognizing the efforts from Vietnam, the EC side also assessed that there were still some shortcomings. The first is to manage and operate the cruise monitoring system (VMS), fishing vessels that do not maintain VMS, especially for large groups of ships over 24m.
The second is the management of fishing vessels in and out of the port. Currently, Vietnam has about 49 designated fishing ports and 66 other fishing ports for ships of 15m to dock. The EC asked Vietnam to control all 49 designated fishing ports to ensure that the fishery products caught were legal.
|EC “Yellow Card” of IUU has significantly affected Vietnam’s seafood exports to the EU market. Photo: Thu Hoa|
Third, at present, the enforcement of Vietnam’s fisheries law on penalties for fishing violations in foreign waters is very limited. The EC side requested to strengthen and speed up the investigation and verification of the records to sanction.
Finally, the implementation of the Agreement on Port State Measures to prevent and combat illegal, undeclared and unregulated fishing of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (PSMA Agreement). This content has just been implemented by Vietnam, so there are still errors and need to be improved very positively in the near future.
How do you assess the change of local leaders in overcoming IUU “yellow card”, especially after the close instructions of the Prime Minister at the online meeting on anti-fishing IUU took place in early September 2021?
The meeting of the National Steering Committee on IUU in early September 2021 is very important, as a motivation for localities to be more active and proactive in implementing measures to combat IUU fishing. Especially new is that the Prime Minister now assigns the leaders of coastal communes who directly manage the ship owners, captains and fishermen, needing stronger involvement.
We must understand the fight against IUU fishing and propagate, mobilize and manage fishermen in their areas so that fishermen have understanding, responsibility, and mandatory requirements for anti-IUU fishing.
After the delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, when is it expected that the EC side will visit Vietnam to assess the implementation of the EC’s recommendations on combating IUU fishing, sir?
It is expected that, if the pandemic situation stabilizes, in the first quarter of 2022 EC will go to Vietnam to inspect fishing ports, check in many localities to see the efforts of the Vietnamese side, to make new recommendations for Vietnam’s IUU “yellow card” removal roadmap.