Unable to remove IUU yellow card this year, Vietnam may have to wait another 3 years

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Phung Duc Tien, suggests that the upcoming fifth inspection on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing will be the last chance to remove the “IUU yellow card.” If unsuccessful, Vietnam will have to wait another three years.

Preventing and addressing illegal fishing vessels

On May 21, in Hanoi, Deputy Minister Phung Duc Tien chaired a meeting on implementing measures against IUU fishing.

Nguyen Quang Hung, Director of the Department of Fisheries Surveillance (MARD), stated that the European Commission (EC) inspection team was initially scheduled to visit Vietnam in May to inspect efforts against IUU fishing, but the visit was postponed to September-October.

Hung explained that one reason for the EC’s delay was Vietnam’s recent issuance of Decree No. 37/2024/ND-CP, which amends and supplements certain provisions of Decree No. 26/2019/ND-CP of March 8, 2019, detailing some articles and measures to implement the Fisheries Law, and Decree No. 38/2024/ND-CP, which amends and supplements certain provisions of Decree No. 42/2019/ND-CP of May 16, 2019, on administrative penalties in the fisheries sector. 

The EC wants to evaluate Vietnam’s implementation of these legal regulations.

From now until the EC inspection team arrives, the MARD will propose that Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang lead a meeting and inspect IUU fishing prevention efforts in various localities in June. 

Additionally, the MARD should implement a specific monthly inspection plan across all coastal provinces and cities regarding IUU fishing prevention.

“For the EC to lift the IUU yellow card during the upcoming inspection, localities must maximize efforts to prevent fishing vessels from trespassing foreign waters and decisively address any violations,” Hung said.

The last opportunity to remove the yellow card

Deputy Minister Tien noted that the violation handling rate in fishing is relatively low, around 10%, according to the Department of Fisheries Surveillance. This low rate leads the EC to believe that Vietnam’s measures are not sufficiently deterrent.

Deputy Minister Tien urged localities to allocate resources and utilize the vessel monitoring system to ensure 24/7 monitoring, oversee 100% of fishing vessels 24 meters or longer operating at sea, and strictly handle any violations related to the disconnection of the monitoring equipment.

During his recent visit to Europe in April, the EC focused on four main recommendations: completing the legal framework, enhancing the management of fishing vessels, controlling the traceability of exploited aquatic products, and addressing violations of fishing vessels in foreign waters. Localities must effectively implement these recommendations, as the upcoming fifth EC inspection will be the “last opportunity” due to the upcoming European Parliament elections.

“If we cannot remove the IUU yellow card this time, Vietnam will have to wait about three more years for the next inspection team,” Tien said.

Deputy Minister Tien requested the MARD to urgently organize a nationwide conference to disseminate Directive 32 of the Secretariat on strengthening the Party’s leadership over efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and sustainably develop the fisheries sector, in the spirit of proactive guidance and subsequent review, to avoid the situation of “constant inspections without knowing where we went wrong.”


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