10 March 2023, VN: Minister Le Minh Hoan emphasized the role of marine aquaculture and establishing a model of community management in solving IUU fishing issues.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development held a meeting with pertinent units on March 9 to accelerate the implementation of the 180-day Action Plan under Decision 81 by the Prime Minister on combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Fishermen are important contributors to combating IUU fishing
Regarding the implementation of the 180-day Action Plan, Mr. Tran Dinh Luan, Director of the Directorate of Fisheries reported that the Central Government has held multiple workshops with the participation of different ministries, branches and localities to discuss implementing the recommendations made by the European Commission (EC) on removing the IUU “yellow card”. Furthermore, the Central Government has promulgated documents requesting the People’s Committees of coastal provinces and cities to implement the Action Plan.
So far, many coastal provinces and cities have issued their Action Plans as well as increased resources to combat IUU fishing locally. Several provinces and cities have promoted communication and worked with the coast guards and border guards to record violating fishing vessels; governmental officials have coordinated with fisheries unions to strengthen communication and warn fishermen against violating in foreign waters.
Regarding the management and control of fishing vessel activities and law enforcement for violations, the Directorate of Fisheries has organized inspection teams and requested local governments to coordinate and strengthen the inspection of fishing vessels which fail to maintain connections or improperly disassemble cruise equipment; review and update high-risk IUU-violating vessels. Directorate of Fisheries is also proposing to handle IUU fishing violations through the use of images.
According to Mr. Nguyen Quang Hung, Director of the Department of Fisheries Surveillance, only 8 out of 28 coastal provinces and cities nationwide have established a fishery surveillance force. The Prime Minister’s Decision No. 81 required provinces and cities to promptly establish local fisheries surveillance forces. Moreover, coastal provinces and cities must consolidate and establish local fisheries surveillance forces within this year under the IUU Project.
Multiple violations of IUU fishing were reported in provinces and cities with a large number of fishing vessels. Subsequently, Mr. Nguyen Quang Hung proposed Minister Le Minh Hoan to address the fishermen and businesses in an open letter. Additionally, media activities will be deployed, and the local community should encourage the participation of mass and local organizations in handling violation hot spots, namely provinces, districts, communes with small fishing vessels violating in foreign waters.
According to Mr. Hung: “Vietnam has over 1 million square kilometers of sea and 4,000 kilometers of coastline. Consequently, the governmental forces cannot handle violations thoroughly on such a large scale without the help of local fishermen.”
On the other hand, Mr. Nguyen Quang Hung also addressed the issue of improving livelihoods for the local people. It is necessary to understand the needs and culture of each region to build livelihood conversion projects for fishermen, focusing on supporting those who want to switch from fishing to aquaculture.
A representative from the Research Institute for Aquaculture I commented that the participation of management agencies and businesses is necessary to support the output of marine aquaculture products such as seabass, yellowfin pompano among many others. Other suggestions include a mechanism to promote training for fishermen as well as additional resources to invest in infrastructure.
The need to develop a fisherman-oriented policy
Minister Le Minh Hoan emphasized the significant role of marine aquaculture in the process of solving IUU fishing issues. According to the Minister: “Marine aquaculture has great benefits, including the ability to minimize fishing, replenish resources, and lessen conflict while safeguarding aquatic resources.”
According to the Minister, sustainable development is based on three main pillars: economy, environment and society, whereas the major social factor is the people, namely fishermen. Therefore, it is necessary to innovate the approach to communication in raising awareness against IUU fishing.
As a result, it is necessary to focus on fishermen when developing policies, in order to fully understand and solve their problems. Afterwards, they will happily and voluntarily protect aquatic resources.
“We must be persistent in communication, thereby changing the awareness of fishermen with regards to the protection of aquatic resources and sustainable exploitation. On the other hand, we must also provide training, skills and knowledge in changing careers for fishermen”, said Minister Le Minh Hoan.
In response to the Directorate of Fisheries, the Minister requested the Directorate to expand expertise, focus on the lives of farmers and fishermen, and build communities to solve common problems in unision. It is necessary to reorganize the industry, demonstrate the future perspective to fishermen as well as persuade them to stop fishing and increase aquaculture instead.
In addition, Minister Le Minh Hoan emphasized the proper recognition of traders: bringing traders into the community to protect aquatic resources so that they can give advice and “soft” regulations for the fishermen.
Regarding the management community, commenting on an example of the Assembly Hall model in Dong Thap, Minister Le Minh Hoan said that if we want to succeed, we need to prove that through cooperation, the “share” will be bigger, because it is necessary to have appropriate communication measures to convince the fishermen.
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