Vietnam spares no efforts to have IUU yellow card removed

    Vietnam has focused on strictly materializing four groups of recommendations made by the European Committee (EC) to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, hopefully having its IUU yellow card removed in the coming months.
Four groups of measures taken
    Specifically, the country has centered on completing relevant legal frameworks; monitoring, inspecting and controlling the activities of fishing vessels and managing fleets; certifying output and traceability of caught seafood; and enforcing the law.
    Leaders of relevant ministries, sectors and localities nationwide were supposed to be more drastic and responsible in combating IUU fishing, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang said at an online conference on taking measures to prevent and fight against IUU fishing, with the participation of 28 coastal provinces and cities in late August 2023.
    The ministries, sectors and localities were also requested to put forth feasible recommendations and take comprehensive measures to have the ECs IUU yellow card lifted.
    From the central level to local levels, we must be more drastic and responsible. Time is running out, and our job is difficult. We will use synchronous solutions related to ministries, sectors, and localities. We must fulfill tasks before the ECs inspection team comes here. Localities should continue to focus on three groups of tasks, namely fishing ship management, fishing port management, and coordination with central agencies and other localities in fighting IUU fishing, Quang said.
    To materialize the deputy prime ministers instructions and requirements, from now until October 2023, before the ECs inspection team comes to Vietnam to inspect for the fourth time, it is necessary to complete two legal documents, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien, vice chairman of the countrys National Steering Committee on Combating IUU Fishing, said at a meeting on August 31, 2023.
    The two government decrees include Decree No. 26/2019/ND-CP on detailing a number of articles and measures to implement the Fisheries Law, and Decree No. 42/2019/ND-CP on stipulating penalties for administrative violations in the fisheries sector, Tien noted.
    The 28 coastal provinces and cities needed to have more specific data on the installation or disconnection of the vessel monitoring systems (VMS) on fishing ships. Basing on the data, the localities should take timely strong measures to handle IUU fishing-related violations, the deputy minister said.
    The localities were also urged to seriously tracing the origin of caught seafood and certifying them, ensuring that all batches of seafood for export meet all requirements made by Vietnam and foreign countries.
    The ministries, sectors and localities should fiercely focus on preventing fishing vessels from violating foreign waters. We need to seriously handle the problem, so that when the EC comes to inspect, they will see that Vietnam has really followed their recommendations and really taken actions, said the deputy minister.
    The delegation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development led by Minister Le Minh Hoan began its business trip to Europe on September 18, 2023. During working sessions with the ECs Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries and the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) in Brussels, the minister affirmed that anti-IUU fishing is a key task of Vietnams seafood industry, not only to export seafood to the EU but also to help develop a sustainable aquaculture and fishing industry, demonstrating the countrys responsibility, and maintaining its reputation. At the same time, Vietnam has regarded the yellow card issue as an opportunity for the fishing industry to pursue sustainable development.
Concrete results achieved
    With the goals of building sustainable and responsible fisheries, accelerating international integration, and having the ECs yellow card removed, Vietnams entire political system has actively participated in building up and carrying out a synchronous plan with specific goals and solutions.
    To date, Vietnam has built a comprehensive legal framework for fisheries management and combating IUU fishing. The management of fishing vessels has changed clearly, being reflected in the fact that Vietnam has built and operated a national database of fishing vessels (registration, inspection, licensing of fishing) connected from central to local levels, and collaborated with law enforcement forces (Fisheries Inspection, Border Guard, Coast Guard), and port management agencies to control the activities of fishing vessels.
    Nearly 98% of fishing vessels with a length of at least 15 meters operating in the open sea have been installed with VMS. In addition, traceability of seafood origin has been implemented and controlled in line with chains ranging from controlling seafood output through ports to issuing export certificates.
    Law enforcement and sanctioning of administrative violations have been actively implemented in many localities, including Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa, Binh Thuan, Ben Tre, Bac Lieu, Tien Giang, Ca Mau and Kien Giang.
    As a result, the number of Vietnamese fishing ships and boats violating foreign waters since 2015 has fallen sharply. The number of fishing vessels caught illegally fishing in foreign waters has decreased by nearly 84.4% compared to 2016.
    Currently, Vietnam is actively implementing programs and projects to transform the sustainable seafood exploitation industry, and to create a foundation for fishing fleet management. To implement synchronous solutions for sustainable fisheries development, the minister said Vietnam has a strategy to reduce fishing capacity, reduce the fishing fleet, and switch to promoting aquaculture for sustainable development.
    The Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries and DG MARE assessed Vietnams stance on handling the IUU yellow card and developing a sustainable fisheries industry as a model for the world. The European Union wants to support Vietnam to become a world model in sustainable development of the fisheries industry and combating IUU fishing.
    As of August 29, 2023, a total of 71,658 out of 86,820 fishing vessels with a length of 6 meters, had been registered and updated on the VNFisbase database, reaching a rate of 82.5%. Meanwhile, VMS had been installed on 28,753 out of 29,381 fishing vessels with a length of 15 meters or more, achieving a rate of nearly 97.9%.
    By 2025, all fishing vessels with length of at least 15 meters will be inspected before leaving fishing ports to ensure all documents and equipment are completed as prescribed. By that year, they must be monitored through the VMS when at sea and will be inspected when arriving at fishing ports; all aquatic output from domestic fishing must be inspected and supervised when loading and unloading at fishing ports; and 100% of seafood from foreign catches arriving at Vietnams ports must be inspected and monitored in line with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)s 2009 Agreement on Port State Measures.
A senior official of Vietnams agriculture ministry stated: Vietnam will never tolerate or permit activities related to IUU fishing.

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