Vietnam targets EU lifting fishing yellow card in October

By Viet Tuan   July 9, 2023 | 11:37 pm PT
Vietnam targets EU lifting fishing yellow card in October
Fishing boats dock in central Phan Thiet Town in 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Viet Quoc
The government has requested fiercer solutions to prevent fishermen from operating illegally in foreign waters, to overturn the EU yellow card barrier to seafood exports.

Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang ordered that coastal provinces and cities immediately set up their own fisheries surveillance task forces to coordinate with the Ministry of Defense to prevent fishing vessels from violating the waters outside Vietnam’s territory, according to a statement by the Government Office on July 8.

He tasked the Ministry of Public Security with tracking down all brokers who help bring Vietnamese fishing boats and fishermen to operate in disallowed areas.

He ordered agencies and coastal localities to carefully prepare plans and contents for working with the inspection delegation of the European Commission (EC), the executive of the 28-nation EU expected to visit Vietnam in October.

The target is for the EC to remove the illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing yellow card issued to Vietnam's fisheries sector by that time.

The EC applied a yellow card warning on seafood from Vietnam in October 2017 after a number of Vietnamese fishing vessels were caught trespassing in neighboring waters.

The commission subsequently informed member countries about Vietnam’s failure to meet requirements for preventing IUU fishing.

Vietnam’s fisheries exports have since been subject to intense scrutiny, with all seafood containers 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 stated it would remove the yellow card in June 2018 and later said it would consider doing so in January 2020, but nothing has happened to date.

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) said earlier that if Vietnam still cannot improve its legal and administrative frameworks to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, it could face a "red card," meaning a trade ban on fishery products, VASEP said.

Fisheries is the fifth-largest export category in Vietnam and accounts for 4% of total exports. Its value in recent years came to around $8.5-9 billion.

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