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Seafood exports strive to remove the 'yellow card'

In order to overcome the EU's recommendations regarding to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), as well as to prevent Vietnamese seafood from continuing to encounter barriers as the importing markets attach great importance to the IUU issue, apart from direct negotiations with the EU, a series of measures taken by state management


Establishing the Steering Committee on IUU

Around recommendations on the IUU, by the end of October 2017, the EU officially gave a "yellow card" to Vietnam. This quickly creates difficulties for the exports of Vietnamese seafood to the EU market as well as to other markets. In the coming time, if Vietnam will not be able to overcome the recommendations from the EU, the bad consequence is that the EU will give a "red card", prohibiting seafood exports of Vietnam in this market.

Obviously, after the receiving the "yellow card", the IUU issue really heated up. However, in reality, it is just the “last straw”, marking the illegal exploitation of Vietnam. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the number of seized fishing boats and fishermen of Vietnam has been on the rise since 2010. Specifically, in 2010, the number of fishing boats and fishermen in Vietnam violated and were arrested were 223 ships/ 1.748 people; 2014 were 260 ships/ 1,998 people; By 2015 there were 361 ships/ 2,688 people and 2016 were 364 ships/ 2,689 people. Notably, from 2015, fishing vessels of Vietnam illegally exploiting seafood in foreign waters surge dramatically. This phenomenon has caused frustration in international forums and public opinion in the region.

One of the important reasons for this situation is that the local authorities have not been able to handle the violations seriously and sanctions are not enough. In addition, the owners, brokers have encouraged, helping to take fishing vessels and fishermen involved in illegal exploitation in foreign waters. Although the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has actively implemented and advised the Government on the gradual improvement of the fisheries management regime and implemented many measures to prevent IUU exploitation, the effectiveness of prevention, and eliminate IUU fishing is still low. Specifically, management agencies have not prevented and terminated the situation that Vietnamese fishing vessels are illegally exploiting abroad; have not controlled effectively, practically exploited aquatic products on the wharf including imported products; have not controlled illegal fishing activities in our sea areas and do not effectively prevent foreign fishing vessels from entering Vietnamese waters.

About an efficient and sustainable fisheries development, while addressing a number of important issues recommended by the European Commission's Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG-MARE), recently, the MARD has submitted to the Prime Minister for consideration and approval of the “National Plan of Action to prevent, reduce and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by 2025”.

Accordingly, in addition to submitting the amendment of Fisheries Law to the National Assembly in 2017, including IUU content, documents related to the IUU exploitation in the direction of enhancing effective control of IUU exploitation, complying with some recommendations of the European Commission (EC) and the management practices of Vietnam will be promulgated; at the same time, reviewing and supplementing fisheries, sea areas and species banned from exploitation or banned in a definite period of time.

In addition, some other important issues are the establishment of the National Steering Committee for the Prevention and Control of IUUs, and the establishment and operation of other imported aquatic materials control systems in Vietnam. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the mechanism of certifying the origin of exploited aquatic products in the country will be adjusted and operated effectively. In addition, cases of organizing fishing boats and fishermen offshore or brokering of fishing vessels and fishermen who are illegally detained by foreign countries will be investigated, verified, detected and severely dealt with.

Specifying the responsibility of the head

Regarding specific implementation measures, representatives from the MARD said that in the short term, the ministry will dialogue with the EU’s Delegation to Vietnam and the European Commission on issues related to handling 6 recommendations of the DG-MARE and other international and national organizations on improving the effectiveness of the fisheries management system in Vietnam. In addition, the MARD has also negotiated bilateral agreements with other countries in the region to bring legal fishing vessels from abroad, set up hotlines to deal with marine incidents and situations.

Regarding to the policy mechanism, according to the plan, it is noteworthy that the localities will be decentralized to manage, monitor and control the IUU in localities and communities; specify clear responsibilities for the head of governments at all levels who are unable to control their local IUU fishing vessels; cite the responsibility of heads of local coastal provinces, especially localities which does not prevent or control the situation of fishing vessels exploiting illegally aboard. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the incentive mechanism for fishermen to shift to selective and environmentally friendly fishing and livelihood conversion will be created to reduce the pressure on the resources and aquatic life.

In order to be able to effectively implement the entire National Action Plan, the budget includes state budget, investment of enterprises, the private sector, community and foreign capital as well as the capital sources. The State creates a legal basis, promulgates mechanisms and policies to mobilize social resources, especially investment from the private sector, to implement the National Action Plan and Action Plan of ministries, branches and administrations at all levels to enhance the capacity and effectiveness of law enforcement against the IUU exploitation.

According to the National Plan of Action to prevent, reduce and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by 2025, in the period 2018-2020, the task is to: Completely terminate the situation of Vietnamese fishing vessels and fishermen illegally exploiting in foreign waters and international sea areas; ratify the entry into international and regional fisheries management agreements related to the prevention and control of IUU; strictly control the quantity, types and origins of aquatic products consignments.

In the period of 2021-2025, continue to further consolidate and strengthen the law enforcement capacity of functional forces in the sea areas, at fishing ports, fishing wharves and fish markets; strict control seafood shipments; investigate, verify, strictly handle organizations and individuals participating in the operation of IUU...