Efforts to Tackle IUU Yellow Card

Wednesday, August 15, 2018  15:57

Vietnam is rapidly adopting measures to address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and progress towards responsible fishing.



Warnings from the EC


Wrapping up the inspection in Vietnam (from May 16 to 24, 2018), the European Commission (EC) recognised Vietnam’s progress in addressing IUU fishing. At the same time, the EC also sent a letter (Ares(2018)3356871) on June 25, 2018 to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, notifying EC’s remarks on inspection contents in Vietnam, as well as requirements and recommendations.


In request and recommendation contents, the EC noted that the draft decree on the enforcement of the Fisheries Law is not inclusive and does not cover all regulations on IUU fishing such as more appropriate and deterrent sanctions towards international regulations, absence of definitions of the severity of violations to impose resultant penalties; lack of regulations on sanctions such as confiscation of products, fishing gear and fishing permits.


The EC’s document also requested Vietnam to ratify accession to the United Nations Straddling Fish Stocks Agreement and the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) to timely integrate terms of these agreements into the decree on the implementation of the Law on Fisheries, particularly PSMA terms.


The EC also said that Vietnam has not yet demonstrated the full responsibility of a flag state (administer fishing vessels) and the responsibility of a coastal state (protecting maritime resources) like failure to tightly control vessels entering and leaving ports and vessel operations at sea, verify species and output docked at ports.


Vietnam should have a detailed plan and roadmap for the installation of cruise control gears on fishing vessels with a length of 15 metres or over, to make sure that the enforcement of regulations on installation and activation of cruise control equipment as soon as the Law on Fisheries takes effect from January 1, 2019.


With respect to the management of fishing vessel operations and the handling of fishing vessels that infringe foreign waters, the EC inspection team said that the law enforcement in fishing vessel control to make sure that there is no violation of illegal fishing foreign waters is ineffective. For example, Vietnam lacks measures to administer illegal fishing boats in foreign waters and fails to timely and effectively tackle and prevent fishing vessels infringing foreign waters.


As for the certification of fish products, the EC inspection team said that Vietnam has no control over caught products declared on paper compared with reality; and does not effectively control new fishing vessels to avoid outnumbering. To ensure the effective enforcement of international regulations on IUU fishing prevention, Vietnam needs to increase its resources sufficiently and have an appropriate organisational structure.





According to Mr Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, solutions needed to be implemented include upgrading fishing gear and not infringing foreign fishing waters. Changing fishing practices from natural fishing to responsible fishing from declaration, booking and fishing ground or addressing infrastructure gaps from the fishing ports and anchorages should be made more drastic.


“Remarkably, it is necessary to reorganise production and more importantly process products further to get more from value chains. Besides, Vietnam should focus on far farming and this is a sustainable solution that it essentially pursues. It also needs to focus on restructuring onshore employment rather than just concentrate on offshore fishing and building a fishing industry that is broader than the maritime economy in a sustainable manner,” he said.


The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development already reported to the Prime Minister, asked central and authorities of coastal provinces and cities to concentrate on implementing urgent and central solutions in the shortest time and facilitate big ships to operate and catch fish and help enterprises trace fish in a timely manner for their business deals.


Mr Vu Van Tam, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said, to bring an end to illegal fishing vessels in foreign waters and sustain fishing development, authorities need to administer from the shore, impose sanctions on ship-owners and specifically list fishing types.


More effective and tighter measures are needed to deal with violated vessels. Authorities importantly manage ships from the wharf and quicken fishing boat surveillance by cruise control means.


In addition, Vietnam will adopt measures to track cash flows in fishing services like applying a unique global identification number for fishing vessels, requiring fully recorded transhipment of fishing vessels.


With the current and future efforts, the Vietnamese agriculture sector hopes to have the yellow card removed soon after the EC re-inspects in January 2019.




Nguyen Thanh