Global Agriculture

Remove IUU yellow card: EC is not difficult, we are easygoing

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26 December 2022, VN: To remove the IUU yellow card, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has specified the key tasks and solutions to be implemented until April 2023 and in the long term.

On December 23, MARD coordinated with the People’s Committees of 28 coastal provinces and cities to organize a conference on action against IUU fishing.

Accordingly, implementing the direction of Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the online conference on combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) on December 1, 2022. The direction is about the promulgation of the Action Plan against IUU fishing, removing the European Commission’s “yellow card” warning (hereinafter referred to as the Plan). The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has developed a draft Plan and submitted it to the Prime Minister for consideration and approval.

The objective of the Plan is to implement synchronously, effectively, and efficiently the legal provisions on fisheries; overcome shortcomings and limitations as recommended by the European Commission (EC) on combating IUU fishing, removing the “yellow card” warning in 2023.

Manage the exploitation and sustainable development of the fisheries sector for the benefit of the people and the country. Enhance Vietnam’s international position, image, and responsibility in implementing commitments, and international treaties on marine environment protection and sustainable marine ecosystems. As well as contribute to ensuring national defense and security, sovereignty over seas and islands of the country.

To achieve this goal, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has specified the key tasks and solutions to be implemented until April 2023 and in the long term.

Accordingly, by March 31, 2023, it is necessary to complete the amendment and supplement of legal documents according to the EC’s recommendations and ensure compliance with the actual situation according to the shortened order and procedures.

For fleet management and monitoring, inspection and control of fishing vessel operations, review of the number of fishing vessels, 100% completion of registration, registration, marking of fishing vessels, issuance of fishing licenses, and installation of monitoring equipment for fishing vessels (VMS) according to regulations. Update 100% of fishing vessel data into the National Fisheries Database (VNFishbase).

Review the points where fishing vessels docked and unloaded fishery products (fishing wharves, fishing ports…) to organize monitoring and traceability of 100% of catches and unloading locally.

Inspect and control 100% of fishing vessels entering and exiting at sea border posts/stations, fishing vessels entering and leaving at fishing ports; 24/7 monitoring and surveillance of 100% of fishing vessels operating at sea through a fishing vessel monitoring system.

100% of fishing vessels with the largest length of 15m or more must dock at the designated port, ensure that the VMS equipment works continuously 24/24 hours when the fishing vessel leaves the port until it arrives at the port and gives 1 hour’s notice. They also have to record and submit fishing logs according to regulations; check and compare the information in the fishing log to ensure it is consistent with the fishing vessel monitoring data.

Establish a local Fisheries Control under the provisions of the Fisheries Law 2017 and the Law on Organization of Local Governments under the authority of the province

Connect the imported caught fishery control system software with the national one-stop portal for the certification and traceability of caught fishery products. Control 100% of caught fishery products imported from abroad in full compliance with the provisions of the Agreement on Port State Measures; have solutions to strictly control fishery products imported into Vietnam by container ships.

For law enforcement, handling of administrative violations, termination of fishing vessels illegally fishing in foreign waters. Investigate and handle 100% of cases of Vietnamese foreign fishing vessels arresting, handling, and sanctioning 100% of cases of illegal fishing in foreign waters and information on the media.

Investigate, consolidate records, prosecute and handle cases of brokering and linking Vietnamese fishing vessels and fishermen in illegally exploiting seafood in foreign waters.

Update 100% of the results of sanctioning acts of IUU fishing in the software system to monitor and manage the handling of administrative violations in the fisheries sector.

Regarding international cooperation, negotiation, signing, and implementation of hotlines between Vietnam and Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand, and China to exchange information and handle cases about fishing vessels and fishermen of the two countries.

The Minister of MARD Le Minh Hoan said: Actually, EC is not difficult but we are being easy in management. Currently, the stage of enforcement against IUU fishing is still quite weak. In addition, some localities are still not fully aware of IUU, leading to the psychology of implementing work in a coping and ineffective manner.

“We have only communicated how to deal with IUU but have not proposed detail about IUU so that all people can understand and apply it properly. Currently, no fishing port has ever hung a sign explaining specifically about IUU and outlining what illegal, undeclared, and unregulated fishing will cause to Vietnamese fishermen. Fishermen and ship owners in and out of the port can see it every day, every hour. From there, imbibe and self-transform to change”, emphasized Minister Le Minh Hoan.

The agricultural sector leader also said: We must change our thinking, not see the EC requirements on IUU as a barrier, but see it as a driving force to implement the Fisheries Law more effectively.

Therefore, the first thing that localities need to do is change their communication plans and methods. The merchants who buy products and provide materials for people going to sea are a force that is close and has a voice and influence with fishermen… Why don’t we research and find a way to include this force in the propaganda team on anti-IUU fishing?

In addition, localities must mobilize the participation of the whole political system, especially mass organizations such as women’s unions, youth unions, and farmers… They need to go to each house, village wall, and hamlet to inform, propagate, encourage and guide their members who are fishermen to understand deeply why it is necessary to fight against IUU fishing. Being warned by the EC “yellow card” or even a “red card” when doing poorly will lead to consequences for themselves and for the fishing community.

In addition, it is necessary to form fishery associations, cooperative groups, branches, groups, and groups to bring all fishermen into common activities. Through these organizations manage, inform, propagate, supervise and remind each other to strictly comply with regulations.

The Minister also noted that the Directorate of Fisheries and localities, the action plan against IUU fishing is in the process of submitting to the Prime Minister for consideration and promulgation. Therefore, what works under the authority that can be implemented should be done immediately, without sitting and waiting, without justifying or complaining. During the implementation process, any difficulties or problems should be promptly reported to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for a solution.

Minister Le Minh Hoan also requested the Directorate of Fisheries to immediately develop plans and schemes to support fishermen to change jobs to reduce fishing density. If the unit in charge of IUU does not have enough force, it should report to the Minister to mobilize more force to receive reinforcement support. At the same time, develop a plan to closely and harmoniously coordinate with the Border Guard forces, the Police… closely with fishermen and ship owners to support, manage, supervise and enforce the law according to regulations

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