Vietnam mulls fishing ban as seafood resources dwindle

By Minh Nga   January 2, 2019 | 07:52 pm PT
Vietnam mulls fishing ban as seafood resources dwindle
Fishers at a beach in Mui Ne in Vietnam's south central coast. Photo by VnExpress/Le Dang
Vietnam is considering fishing bans in certain places at certain times as it runs out near-shore seafood sources.

With a long coastline that runs 3,260 km (2,025) miles, Vietnam is globally famous for fresh seafood, but this could well change in the near future.

Authorities are planning to issue a fishing ban in the first quarter of this year to cope with a decline in fisheries caused by overexploitation.

The country’s seafood resource is in decline, Nguyen Viet Nghia, deputy head of the Research Institute for Maritime Fisheries under the agriculture ministry, told VOV.

Last year, a number of Vietnamese fishing vessels tresspassed into waters outside Vietnam’s maritime boundaries, prompting a "yellow card" warning from the European Commission (EC) in October 2017. This is a warning issued by EC to countries involved in illegal fishing.

The commission informed member countries about Vietnam’s failure to meet requirements on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing prevention.

Fish exports from Vietnam since then have been subjected to intense scrutiny, with all Vietnamese seafood containers being inspected in a process that could take three to four weeks and cost 500 euros ($633) per container.

A rejected container can cost an exporter nearly $12,000, and the risk of rejection is high.

The EC had initially said it would remove the yellow card in June last year, but extended the withdrawal, saying it would consider lifting it within January this year.

In case the situation gets worse and the yellow card is upgraded to a red card, all Vietnamese seafood will be banned from the EU market.

For the planned fishing ban, the Directorate of Fisheries under Vietnam’s agriculture ministry is collecting opinions from relevant ministries and departments, said Nguyen Quang Hung, deputy head of the directorate.

The plan is to prohibit all fishing activities in 20 near-shore areas along the country's coast from north to south.

The ban will be imposed from April to June in the northern coast and from May to July in the central and southern coasts, it is planned.

The ban will also include prohibitions on using certain kinds of nets, traps and tools that help catch small creatures and bottom feeders. Tools equipped with light will not be allowed, except for catching squid.

From 2021, Vietnam wants to ban all fishing activities using nets for a month across the country, and expand it to two to three months from 2025.

Le Tran Nguyen Hung, head of the directorate’s Department of Aquatic Resources Conservation and Development, said overexploitation of seafood resources of all ages and sizes was quite common, covering almost all sea areas in the country.

The process of encroachment on the sea has affected the habitats of many species, leading to disorder in the ecosystem and caused many to die.

Hung said the ban will be imposed for at least 10 years to give time for the marine resources to recover.

"The plan will absolutely have direct impact on fishers but that is something we have to accept. Right now this is the only solution for sustainable exploitation in the future," he told VnExpress International.

According to the Maritime Law that takes effect from January 1 this year, those violating regulations on prohibited fishing methods will be fined between VND1-2 billion (43,150-86,300) and even face criminal charge.

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