The European Union is ready to support Vietnam’s seafood industry, but it has to review its fisheries management and address its shortcomings, the First Counselor of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, Miriam Garcia Ferrer, told a meeting in HCM City on November 9.
The meeting, with officials from the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and seafood export firms, was held after the country was last month served with a yellow card warning by the EU for failing to progress in fighting IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing.
Nguyen Hoai Nam, deputy secretary general of VASEP, said his association’s IUU working group did a study of fisheries management, the process of issuing fishing licences in three key central fishing areas, Da Nang city and the provinces of Khanh Hoa and Binh Thuan.
VASEP has recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should establish a national IUU working group and organise a national conference to discuss the yellow card and take action to avoid a red card, which is imminent in six months in the absence of improvement, he said.
VASEP said its review, which includes the EU’s recommendations, would be considered to draft amendments to the Fisheries Law.
These include making it mandatory for fishing vessels to use equipment like cameras to record data during their fishing trips, he said.
VASEP would issue a White Book on the IUU programme indicating Vietnam’s efforts to improve its fisheries management, he said.
It would also get foreign experts to make recommendations for improvement, he added.
Nguyen Thi Thu Sac, chairwoman of VASEP’s Marine Product Committee, said there is not much time left before the six months lapse, and hoped the country can avoid the red card, which would preclude fisheries exports to the EU.
Ferrer appreciated VASEP’s efforts and said the EU’s warning would help Vietnam improve its systems ahead of the proposed bilateral free trade agreement (EVFTA).
The country could learn good fisheries management from the Philippines and Thailand, she said.
Vietnam has favourable geographical conditions to develop its seafood industry with its long coastline of over 3,260 km and more than 3,000 islands and islets.
Fisheries is a key sector whose output has been consistently rising in recent years.
The country hopes to become a leading seafood exporter by 2020.