Vietnam strengthens efforts to remove EC’s "yellow card" warning on seafood

Monday, 2018-12-31 07:17:05
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Vietnam has implemented various actions aimed at removing EC’s “yellow card” on its fisheries. (Photo for representative: NDO/Trinh Ke)
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NDO – Vietnam has stepped up measures with an aim to convince the European Commission (EC) to remove a “yellow card” warning on its seafood, with strengthened efforts paid by all the relevant authorities, localities and fishermen.

As planned, in January 2019, the EC’s inspection team will return to Vietnam to inspect and assess the situation and the results of implementing EC’s recommendations on combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. This is the third time EC has inspected IUU issues in Vietnam. Previously, from May 15 to 24 this year, the EC team had field trips in several localities, followed by another inspection by the European Parliament in October.

Since October 23, 2017, when EC announced the application of "yellow card" warning measures for Vietnamese seafood products exported to the European Union (EU) market, with efforts and determination, Vietnam has "internalised" international and regional regulations on anti-IUU into its 2017 Fisheries Law as well as other related guiding documents.

The dissemination of information related to the "yellow card" warning has been boosted to relevant organisations and individuals in various localities, with strong measures also being implemented to handle violating fishing vessels. Most recently, the Kien Giang provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has made public a list of 25 fishing vessels and ship owners, in Rach Gia city and three districts of Chau Thanh, Kien Hai and Phu Quoc, that were committing IUU. In addition to naming them on public media, the province also required functional agencies to investigate, verify and strictly handle violations according to the provisions of law.

However, as Vietnam has 28 provinces with sea, with nearly 110,000 fishing vessels actively fishing, including 33,000 offshore fishing boats, the sole province of Kien Giang, or several other localities, cannot remove the "yellow card" by themselves. All need a synchronous engagement from the relevant ministries, sectors and localities in strictly implementing the government’s policies on numerous urgent tasks and solutions to remove the EC's warning, considering it as one of the top political tasks. The National Steering Committee for Combating IUU and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) should be the acting bodies to direct the implementation from the central to local levels, in order to promptly rectify and rearrange the operation of fishing activities.

In addition, the ministry should continue to complete documents guiding the implementation of the 2017 Fisheries Law, ensuring the effectiveness of such legal documents right from the beginning of 2019. At the same time, it should also develop the plan to deploy the Agreement on Port State Measures, which Vietnam has just joined, as well as the completion of the accession to the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement.

It is also necessary for the MARD to cooperate with the Ministries of Planning and Investment, and Finance and Transport, as well as relevant localities, in reviewing the fishing port system and anchorage areas, thus making additional adjustments for investment and upgrade in accordance with the current capacity of the fishing fleet.

Another key task is building control mechanisms for ships and seafood products originating from Vietnamese ports, while compiling documents to guide ship owners and fishermen to declare necessary information on fishing origins to serve the supervision work. The equipment of long-range positioning on fishing ships should be strengthened in a compulsory manner to facilitate inspection of offshore fishing.

For localities with frequent fishing vessels and fishermen violating foreign waters, together with strictly handling fishing vessels, it is crucial to consider and clarify the responsibilities of the heads of related administrations at all levels, thus, not to allow “one rotten apple to spoil the barrel”.