Vietnam premier urges efforts to lift EC’s IUU fishing ‘yellow card’ warning

            Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has ordered agencies concerned to be well prepared for the coming inspection by the European Commission (EC) over illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, with the aim of removing the EC’s fishing ‘yellow card’ warning imposed on Vietnam since 2017.

In a dispatch issued on Wednesday, PM Chinh urged more efforts to fulfill all EC requirements on combating IUU fishing and make thorough preparations for the fourth inspection by an EC team in Vietnam scheduled for October 10 to 18.

A Vietnamese patrol boat is seen inspecting two fishing boats to prevent IUU fishing activities.

          Nearly six years of carrying out anti-IUU fishing measures in a bid to get the EC’s 'yellow card' removed and undergoing three inspections by the EC, Vietnam's agencies concerned have gained many important achievements, the document stated.

However, there have remained many shortcomings in implementing the EC's recommendations since the third EC inspection in October 2022, including the reality of fishermen engaging in illegal fishing in foreign waters.  

“If the current situation is not resolved quickly, not only will the ‘yellow card’ not be removed, but the risk of receiving a ‘red card’ will also ensue,” the dispatch stated.

To remove the ‘yellow card’ within the EC's fourth inspection, PM Chinh ordered relevant authorities and agencies to urgently and seriously implement all the tasks previously assigned to them to overcome shortcomings and make the best preparations for the forthcoming inspection.

“Strict punishments must be levied on any organizations or individuals that deliberately commit IUU fishing for their own benefits, badly affecting national interests and undermining the image of the country in the international arena,” the PM said in the document.

He directed the Ministry of National Defense to continue maintaining strong and resolute measures to prevent the recurrence of Vietnamese vessels and fishermen illegally fishing in foreign waters.

During the upcoming inspection, the EC will evaluate the results of Vietnam’s implementation of EC recommendations on combating IUU fishing to come to a conclusion whether the ‘yellow card’ will be lifted or maintained, said Phung Duc Tien, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

During a telemeeting with the EC inspection team on September 29, the ministry reported some issues in advance of their visit, according to Duong Van Cuong, deputy director of the ministry’s Fisheries Inspection Department.

“Authorities of 28 coastal localities and relevant ministries have made great efforts to combat IUU fishing over the past years," Cuong affirmed.

"The issue here is not only to remove the EC yellow card but to enforce Vietnam’s fisheries laws in compliance with international practices and to promote sustainable fisheries development,” Cuong affirmed.

Vietnam has built a comprehensive and complete legal framework on fisheries management and combating IUU fishing and has achieved significant results over the past six years, said Tran Quang Hung, director of the department.

The country has built and operated a national database on fishing vessels connected from central to local levels, while database accounts have been provided for functional forces and port management agencies to control fishing vessels’ activities.

To date, nearly 98 percent of fishing vessels operating offshore have been furnished with cruise monitoring equipment.

            So far this year, authorities have dealt with 2,111 IUU fishing cases, logging more than VND44 billion (US$1.8 million) in total fines, Hung said.

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