The European Commission’s (EC) inspection team has recently acknowledged improvements made by Việt Nam in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). In a letter sent to the Vietnamese Directorate of Fisheries, the EC’s inspection team recognised the country’s co-operation, transparency and honesty in providing and exchanging information during their time in Việt Nam. The team confirmed Việt Nam has made significant progress compared to the first inspection in May 2018 and is on the right track towards implementing the Fisheries Law and legal guiding documents.
Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance of Fishing Vessels
Việt Nam’s significant improvements in the monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing vessels have been noted, which was seen during on-site inspections at Tắc Cậu fishing port, the busiest fish market in Kiên Giang Province. The management process and organisation of fishing vessels and output through the port were carried out flexibly and effectively. Việt Nam has also made great efforts to install fishing vessel monitoring systems, provide regulations and implement gear marking fishing vessels based on the EC’s recommendations.
Increased Management of Fishing Density
The EC’s inspection team also acknowledged Việt Nam’s efforts in increasing management of fishing density through freezing offshore fishing fleets. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development issued a decision on assigning a quota of offshore fishing permits for 28 coastal provinces.
However, some shortcomings were pointed out, such as the slow progress of installing cruise monitoring equipment on fishing vessels, incomplete surveillance systems with many technical errors, as well as limited and inconsistent sanctioning on violations among localities. There is also no evidence to prove competent authorities ensure sufficient and accurate traceability mechanisms in fishery processing plants.
The EC also stated that they will not withdraw the yellow card if Việt Nam has not solved the problem of fishing in international waters. Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phùng Đức Tiến said the EC assessed Việt Nam’s efforts not only for removing the yellow card but also for future fishery resources and sustainable fishing.
The EC’s inspection team will return to Việt Nam to check on progress in the next six months. The country must submit a comprehensive report on the results of the recommendation implementation by May 15 next year. The team has suggested Việt Nam continue completing its legal framework and law enforcement’s implementing work, along with increasing monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing vessels, seafood traceability and fishing certification.
Improvements in Database of Fishing Vessels
According to Nguyễn Thị Trang Nhung, deputy director of the DoF’s Department of Science, Technology and International Cooperation, the inspection team praised Việt Nam’s improvements in building a database of fishing vessels, updating information on fishing vessel licensing and planning for sustainable fishing vessel development. Previously, Việt Nam had no surveillance system at the port, but now it has been implemented as a model in Kiên Giang that has effectively controlled fishing vessels.
Việt Nam’s progress in combatting IUU fishing is a positive step forward towards sustainable fishing and protecting fishery resources. However, there are still areas where improvements are needed, such as traceability mechanisms in fishery processing plants and inconsistent sanctioning on violations among localities. The country must continue to complete its legal framework and law enforcement’s implementing work, along with increasing monitoring, control, and surveillance of fishing vessels, seafood traceability and fishing certification.