Eleven coastal provinces from Quang Binh to Binh Thuan have a coastline of 1,230 kilometres, 51 fishing ports and 65 storm shelters for fishing boats. They have a wide fishing area, covering millions of square kilometres, including the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) waters, which is a favourable location for the fishing industry.
To date these 11 provinces have more than 51,700 fishing boats, with an output of 820,000 tonnes in 2020, accounting for 40% of Vietnam’s total fishing output. Fishing is a major industry, creating jobs for 300,000 fishermen and nearly 500,000 others in fish purchasing, processing and logistics. For years, the industry has made a significant contribution to the region’s export revenue with billions of US dollars each year.
Fishermen unload their catch at a fishing port in Binh Thuan Province. (Photo: Dinh Chau)
In the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected this important industry, causing the closure of several fishing ports, which resulted in grounded fishing boats or reduced capacity and loss of income for fishermen. The grounding of fishing boats also affected small traders, seafood processing companies and suppliers of fuel, ice, salt, foods and marine equipment.
In order to soon restore the production chain disrupted by COVID-19, localities with fishing ports have formulated plans to control the disease, in which the top priority remains testing to detect, trace and isolate new infections while vaccinating fishermen. The number of fishermen and merchants allowed to enter fishing ports has also been restricted.
Director of the Quang Ngai Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Ho Trong Phuong said the province has created a plan to revive and develop the fishing industry until 2023. Phu Yen Province also devised plans to deal with epidemic scenarios at fishing ports so as to minimise the damage to fishery companies.
In all these localities, vaccination priority was given to fishermen while measures were strengthened to keep trace of boats, fishermen, small traders and fishery service workers. By the end of October, all fishing ports and boat shelters in the central region were back to normal operation in the new normal state.
According to Director of the Ninh Thuan Fishery Department Dang Van Tin, the effective implementation of the Prime Minister’s decision on the fishery development strategy until 2030 with a vision towards 2045 will be the firm groundwork for the fishery sector to achieve rapid and sustainable development.
The government should prioritise resources for upgrading fishing ports and boat shelters while supporting fishermen to build new boats and procure equipment and fishing gear. It is also necessary to support fishery processors to restore their production post-pandemic so as to avoid disruptions to the supply chain and help fishermen sustain their jobs.