Vietnam determined to have the EU remove yellow card for IUU

    Vietnam has implemented several measures to prevent illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing and followed the EC’s recommendations since the European Commission imposed a "yellow card" on Vietnam’s fishing activities five years ago. After 3 fact-finding tours to Vietnam, the EC said Vietnam is on the right track and has made several changes, but some problems still need to be addressed. Vietnam is now taking stronger measures to prepare a 4th EC inspection in June.

    Over the past 5 years, Vietnam has made efforts to remove the yellow card by implementing the EC's recommendations. Vietnam has gradually completed a legal framework, introduced the 2017 Law on Fisheries, installed voyage monitoring equipment, improved the fishing fleet, and strengthened the traceability of seafood. Yet some problems remain.
Measures in place to get yellow card removed
    The EC’s yellow card has strongly impeded Vietnam's seafood exports. Removing the yellow card is now Vietnam’s highest priority.
    Last month the Prime Minister adopted an action plan to prevent IUU fishing and prepare for a 4th inspection by the European Commission. Under the plan, by the end of May, Vietnam will compile statistics on the registration of fishing vessels, grant fishing licenses, and install voyage monitoring system (VMS) on fishing vessels. Vietnam will also strengthen inspection of all fishing vessels passing through sea border stations and enhance cooperation between localities to control fishing boats outside their home province. The Prime Minister called for strictly sanctioning illegal fishing in foreign waters.
    The EU accounts for 11-12% of Vietnam's total seafood exports with a revenue of billions of dollars. And fishing is the means of livelihood of more than 5 million Vietnamese. The "yellow card" makes it very difficult for them to export, not only to Europe but also to other markets around the world. Raising the awareness of the fishermen is the key task. Many fishermen now are aware of the importance of recording and submitting fishing logs, and complying with the installation of Voyage Monitoring Systems (VMA).
    Le Khac Yeu, the owner of a fishing boat in Hai Phong, said: “We strictly comply with the regulation during any fishing trip and report to the port management when we return. We need to complete all required procedures.”


    In addition to raising fishermen’s awareness of the law, coastal localities have strengthened the management of the fishing fleet. Kien Giang province, which has the largest fishing fleet and produces 16% of Vietnam’s fishing output, asked the Government to establish local fisheries surveillance teams to improve inspection capacity. Kien Giang has launched its own 180-day anti-IUU fishing campaign.
    Mr. Le Quoc Anh, Vice Chairman of the Kien Giang provincial People's Committee, said: “Kien Giang has the largest number of ships in Vietnam. Without strictly handling violations and raising awareness, it would be difficult to realize the government’s action plan. Law enforcement forces need to strengthen inspections and handling of violations.”
    Thanks to drastic measures and stronger regulations against IUU, some improvement has been reported. Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said greater effort needs to be made to prevent fishermen from violating foreign waters.
    “Vietnam is integrating into the world economy rapidly. There is no choice but to comply with the regulations of international organizations and effectively enforce the 2017 Law Fisheries Law to ensure sustainable development. Removing the EC’s yellow card is a crucial task. With the strong determination of the whole political system, the direction of the Government, and close coordination between ministries, sectors, and localities, we’re confident that the yellow card will be removed this year,” said Mr. Tien.

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