|Fishermen harvesting ocean tuna. Photo: VNA|
EU market position is increasingly blurred
“With seafood products caught in the first nine months of this year, the EU only accounted for 8% of Vietnam’s total export value. In comparison with the main markets and groups of markets that import Vietnam’s caught seafood, the EU market is using the lowest weight,” said the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
Ms. Le Hang, Deputy Director of the Training Center (VASEP), said that the impact of the IUU “yellow card” on seafood exports is more evident this year when the Russia-Ukraine conflict caused gasoline prices to skyrocket, fishermen in coastal provinces cannot go to sea.
Although the value of seafood exports to the EU is still increasing, in both the context of seafood exports and Vietnam’s seafood, the EU’s position is increasingly blurred and narrowed because of the influence of the “yellow card”.
The issue of removing the “yellow card” to remove difficulties for seafood exports to the EU market is increasingly urgent, even though this is brought to the Parliament by National Assembly deputies during a discussion on the socio-economic situation in the United States at the 4th meeting, 15th National Assembly. Delegate Le Anh Tuan (Ha Tinh delegation) said that Vietnam has applied many strong measures, but the IUU “yellow card” has not been removed. Even, recent violations of Vietnamese fishing vessels in some waters may lead to the use of a “red card” by the European Commission (EC).
Stop violating fishing boats
Regarding the issue of removing the IUU “yellow card”, from October 19-28, the EC’s inspection team went to check the implementation of the recommendations in Vietnam, focusing on fishing ports in localities.
Mr. Roberto Cesari, Head of IUU Division, Directorate General of Marine and Fisheries Affairs (EC), and head of the inspection team, acknowledged and highly appreciated Vietnam’s efforts in mobilizing the whole political system, implementing drastic and methodical measures against IUU fishing in recent years. Through the random checks in coastal localities, the mission witnessed significant progress and improvement in the implementation of anti-IUU fishing. The delegation also noted great progress in information transparency and capacity promotion for fisheries managers in 28 coastal localities.
Although Vietnam has had drastic measures at the central level, promulgating many legal regulations, mechanisms and policies to combat IUU fishing, according to the inspection team, the implementation at the grassroots level is still weak.
Combating IUU fishing is an increasingly high priority on the EU agenda. With a zero-tolerance approach to IUU fishing, the EU considers this a top priority in the cooperation of the whole bloc and each member state with partner countries.
“In the near future, Vietnam needs to have an effective monitoring mechanism with strict legal regulations, ensuring consistent and synchronous enforcement from central to local levels; improve sanctions, ensure sufficient deterrence, and severely punish all violations. Besides, Vietnam needs to have a plan to manage the overall aquatic resources, strictly control the import of aquatic materials for export processing; put an end to the situation of fishermen violating foreign waters,” said Roberto Cesari.
In the effort to remove the “yellow card” of IUU, especially to solve the problem of fishing vessels illegally fishing in foreign waters, Mr. Nguyen Phu Quoc, Deputy Director of Fisheries Control Department, General Department of Fisheries (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) said that the process of monitoring Vietnamese fishing vessels violating foreign waters over the past 10 years shows that most of the time when fishing vessels violate, the main cause comes from the subjective will of the ship’s owner as well as the captain.
Notably, recently, violations have more complicated. There are fishing boats that have removed the cruise monitoring equipment to install it on another vessel. In addition, there is a case that the ship owner buys an old ship, registers it at the port, and has a cruise monitoring device installed. However, when the ship goes fishing in foreign waters, it is another ship.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said that “There is still a situation where fishing vessels violate foreign waters. In the future, we must resolutely terminate them in accordance with our commitments to the EC. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has assigned the Directorate of Fisheries to review, and any ship that disconnects will be resolutely stopped and severely punished. The ministry also directs to connect from the Information Center of the Directorate of Fisheries to connect with fishing ports and fleets for tighter management.”
Particularly from the perspective of handling administrative violations, according to the leaders of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in fact, there are provinces with very strict handling such as Kien Giang and Ca Mau; however, there are provinces that only make minutes but have not processed them. This may lead to the situation that ships in the province with heavy fines will switch to a locality with lower fines for exploitation. Therefore, the handling of administrative violations must be done seriously in all provinces.