Inspection ordered of substandard steel fishing boats

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has ordered 27 coastal provinces across the country to examine the building of new steel fishing boats, under PM Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s request.

The move comes after the media reported that there are mistakes made in the implementation of a decree, leading to poor quality fishing vessels built under the policy. Worst still, a number of boats did not qualify for fishing offshore.

Speaking at a recent meeting, Nguyễn Xuân Cường, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the ministry would examine all ship manufacturing under the 2014 Government decree on policies for the development of the fisheries sector.

Under Decree 67 (dated July 7, 2014), ship owners building steel or new-material ships with total main engine capacity between 400CV and 800CV can borrow from commercial banks a sum of money which does not exceed 90 per cent of the total investment in the building of the ships.The interest rate is 7 per cent per year, of which ship owners are required to pay 2 per cent per year while the State budget would subsidise 5 per cent.

Many fishermen who received loans from commercial banks to buy steel ships built under the decree are reported to have complained about the poor quality of these ships, saying they continued to face malfunctions and repairs.

Recent examinations by authorities of the central province of Bình Định have found some ships faced frequent breakdowns and deterioration. The ministry would also review, adjust and supplement standards and criteria relating to steel and wood-hulled fishing ships or ships built with new material to ensure their quality and safety when operating offshore. In addition, local authorities have been asked to increase supervision and inspection of the construction and upgrade of fishing ships under the decree in their localities.

Fishermen complaints

Fishermen in the central coastal province of Bình Định who received the loans from commercial banks to buy steel ships are continuing to confront boat malfunctions.

According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, there are currently 771 new steel fishing ships being built under the decree, most of which are in good condition.There are only 18 substandard steel fishing ships, of which 13 were built by Nam Triệu One Member Ltd Company and five built by Đại Nguyên Dương Shipbuilding Company, according to the ministry.

According to the recent examination by the Bình Định Province’s agriculture department, the ships have been found to suffer from frequent breakdowns and degradation. In particular, main engines in nine ships built by Nam Triệu company were broken while the power supply machines in three other ships are working on and off.

Trần Minh Vương, of the central province of Bình Định, owner of the fishing ship BĐ 99027 TS, said he had a contract with the Đại Nguyên Dương Shipbuilding Company, to build his steel fishing boat for VNĐ15 billion (US$660,000). Under the contract, the materials to build the ship would be made in Japan or South Korea, but actually they were made in China, Vương said. The ship first went out to sea last July. But on the first trip, the freezer storage malfunctioned, and the ship had to turn back to shore before it could catch any fish. Vương was among those eligible for a loan from commercial banks to build steel ships under the decree.

Similarly, Nguyễn Văn Mạnh, also of Bình Định Province and owner of a fishing ship built under the same conditions at a cost of VNĐ15 billion, complained about the quality of the ship, which was built by the same shipbuilding company. On the three times that the ship sailed out, it went from having a broken screw to a broken wheel and flooded storage, Mạnh said.

However, a representative of the Đại Nguyên Dương Shipbuilding Company, who asked not to be identified, blamed the fishermen for the ships’ degradation. He says the ship owners do not follow maintenance procedures properly, which require ships to undertake maintenance after every sea trip, not every six months like wood-built ships.

The ministry said it will report the results of the inspection of the building of new steel fishing boats to the PM by the end of this month.


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