|Tuna exports to the EU were deeply affected. Photo: T.H|
Imported seafood materials increased
On October 23, 2021 – four years after Vietnam’s seafood was given the “yellow card” by the European Commission (EC) IUU- Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) held a conference evaluating the implementation of yellow card removal measures by seafood enterprises.
At the conference, talking about seafood exports in the past five years from 2016 to 2021, Ms. Le Hang, Deputy Director of VASEP.PRO Center, said that the growth rate of seafood in 2017 increased by nearly 18%, but seafood export growth gradually decreased in the following years.
For seafood, in 2018 and previously, the negative growth was increasing day by day. From two markets in 2017 to four markets in 2018, so far, only the US market has grown positively. Tuna accounted for 23% of total seafood exports in 2017, so far this proportion is only 18%.
Notably, the source of raw materials for seafood imports increased year by year, from US$731 million in 2016, to US$1.4 billion in 2020 and US$1.2 billion in the first nine months of 2021. Of which, the import and export processing products with the highest increase are tuna and octopus.
According to experts, seafood exports are positive, but the source of imports is also very large. Thereby, the source of raw materials for processing and exporting seafood and seafood of Vietnamese enterprises are difficult.
Seafood exports to the EU from 2017-2021 will grow gradually, especially seafood. Therefore, in order to increase exports, enterprises must be proactive in the source of processing materials. For example, clam products are not imported, not included in the IUU, businesses have been proactive in domestic raw materials, so they still maintain a high export growth rate, with nearly 60% in the first nine months of 2021.
According to VASEP’s forecast, in October 2021, seafood exports will continue to decrease compared to the same period in 2020, with a decrease of 20-25%. Seafood exports for the whole year will strive to reach the 2020 level of US$8.4 billion.
Businesses and regulatory agencies have all said that if Vietnam soon removes the IUU yellow card, seafood exporters will take advantage of tariff incentives and institutional changes from the EVFTA, giving them a chance to recover and aiming to increase seafood exports to the EU market to US$1.2 – 1.4 billion.
Strictly handle violating fishing vessels
Assessing the results after four years of overcoming the IUU yellow card, Mr. Nguyen Hoai Nam, Deputy Secretary General of VASEP, said that nearly 100 seafood processing factories have participated in the commitment to use processing materials that are legally exploited, especially the group of enterprises processing and exporting tuna; install cruise monitoring equipment on fishing vessels with a length of 15 meters or more with signals on the cruise monitoring system for over 27,000 ships.
With the results of the Government, ministries and branches, the efforts of seafood businesses, the Management Board of fishing ports, fishermen after nearly four years of implementation, the EC has recognized Vietnam’s commitment, political determination and efforts in implementing solutions to combat IUU fishing. The EC also affirmed that Vietnam has made progress and is on the right track; recognized and highly appreciated Vietnam’s goodwill, cooperative spirit, transparency and honesty in providing and exchanging information between the two sides on the results of the implementation of combating IUU fishing.
Ms. Phan Thi Hue, Director of the Legal Inspection Department, General Department of Fisheries, said that since giving the “yellow card”, the EC has organized two visits to Vietnam in May 2018 and November 2019, with two online exchanges in 2020.
Through the above checks and exchanges, the EC highly appreciates Vietnam’s goodwill and cooperation, providing transparent and honest information; the legal framework is completed in a timely manner. The results of the implementation of regulations on anti-IUU fishing have changed more than before, such as the results of installing cruise monitoring equipment on fishing vessels.
The EC’s latest assessment said that Vietnam has completed a good legal framework, but law enforcement is a weakness. Because fishing vessels violating IUU fishing regulations are still abundant. In 2020, the management agencies have sanctioned 2,700 cases. From the beginning of 2021, there have been 1,500 violating fishing boats handled.
Colonel Nguyen Dinh Phuc, a representative of the Coast Guard Command, said that some fishermen have very limited knowledge of the law. There are even cases where fishermen intend to illegally exploit seafood in foreign waters, when warned and prevented by the Coast Guard, they turn to attack the Coast Guard. “In this case, we will consolidate the file, consider prosecuting to deal with it strictly,” said Colonel Nguyen Dinh Phuc.
Ms. Phan Thi Hue said that in the future, it is necessary to overcome limitations in the chain of implementation of seafood production and processing from state management agencies, to businesses and people. Of which, business is the most important link. On October 27, the EC will continue to check the remedy of Vietnam’s yellow card online.
Currently, relevant units are continuing to overcome the restrictions recommended by the EC, striving to remove the yellow card in 2022 in accordance with the direction of the Prime Minister.