Fishermen stranded ashore as fuel costs surge

By Hoang Tao, Dac Thanh, Nguyen Dong   July 9, 2022 | 09:47 pm PT
Fishermen stranded ashore as fuel costs surge
Vo Quang Phuc fixes his fishing vessel in the central province of Quang Nam. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh
Vo Quang Phuc of Quang Nam Province has left his vessels ashore for the last two weeks even though it is the main fishing season now.

His two vessels typically make 16 trips a year, but this year they have only done four, and all of them resulted in losses, with diesel prices double that of last year.

The 43-year-old man works as a porter for VND300,000 ($12.84) a day, but he does not get called very often and still has a VND1.7 billion debt on one of his boats.

He has not received any government support to cope with rising fuel costs, and in his village, only the elders work as fishermen. Most of the younger generation have dumped the vocation for other jobs with more stable income.

"We fishermen are facing great difficulties."

Phuc's vessels are among 45,800 nationwide, roughly half the country’s fishing fleet, that have stopped operating this year over high fuel costs.

Diesel costs have nearly doubled year-on-year to around VND30,000 per liter. With fishing vessels consuming about 330 million liters per month, fisherfolk's incomes have been severely impacted, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said in a recent report.

Hoang Van Minh from the central province of Quang Binh is one of them, docking his fishing vessel for two months now.

Minh has seen an increase of 30 percent in fuel costs, while the catch is less than previous years, which means he loses money on all of his fishing trips.

Half of the vessels in his village have stopped operating, and only one in 10 report some profit, he added.

Minh works as a wood worker for VND300,000 a day.

His son needs VND1.5 million soon to pay for his tuition and Minh does not know how he can afford that.

Quang Binh has 1,200 offshore fishing vessels, of which 350 of not being used.

The number of unused vessels will rise further as fuel costs rise faster than catch prices, said Le Ngoc Linh, head of the province’s seafood department.

Pham Van Suc is seen on his boat in Da Nang City. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong

Pham Van Suc is seen on his boat in Da Nang City. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong

Some fishermen are even selling their vessels to make ends meet.

Pham Van Suc in Quang Nam sold his offshore vessel recently and bought a smaller boat to transport people in Da Nang City.

"Many of my customers are fishermen who are now going into the city every day to work as gardeners. They only return to their ships at night to protect them."

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