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Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

By Nguyen Dong, Dac Thanh, Hoang Tao   July 10, 2022 | 03:14 pm PT
Thousands of fishing boats lie ashore in central Vietnam as fishermen struggle to afford high gasoline prices during the peak fishing season.
Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

Around 550 fishing boats from different central provinces have come to anchor at the Tho Quang lock in Son Tra District of Da Nang over the past several weeks.

Their owners said fuel prices have climbed too high and taking offshore fishing trips these days would cause them losses.

Since the beginning of the year, domestic retail gasoline prices have gone through 17 adjustments with 13 increases and four decreases. Currently, each liter of E5 RON 92 gasoline costs VND30,890 ($1.32), RON 95-III VND32,760, an increase of 37 percent and 40 percent respectively compared to the end of last year. The price for diesel oil is VND29,610 per liter, an increase of over VND12,000.

Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

The management board of Tho Quang dock said the price of seafood export has stayed the same, putting fishers in a difficult situation.

Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

Sitting next to his son, Tran Sang, 54, a fisherman from Thua Thien Hue Province that borders Da Nang, says he has stayed ashore for over a month now. So far, he has earned a living by taking various manual jobs in the area.

Sang said he could not take his son, a fourth grader, out as he has "no money."

"It's hard to make a living these days," Sang said, adding that now his plan is to wait for fuel prices to drop or support from the government.

Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

Fisher Thai Dinh Quy cleans up his boat after it was burned.

Quy says he has made just four trips so far this year and has stayed put for three weeks due to high gasoline prices.

On the afternoon of June 30, a fishing boat docked next to his boat caught fire due to a technical accident, and the blaze spread to his boat, burning out the cabin, the navigation device, and the entire fishing net he had just bought. In all, the fire caused him damage of VND500 million.

"If the fuel hadn't gone up, I would have been fishing offshore and the boat would not have caught fire," he says.

Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

In Quang Nam Province, more than 100 fishing boats now lie at bay at the An Hoa lock in Nui Thanh District.

Quang Nam’s fisheries department said the province has more than 3,000 fishing boats and it has yet to identify the number of ships kept at bay due to high gasoline prices.

Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

Fishing boats are covered with canvas.

Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

Fisher Vo Quang Phuc, 43, splashes water to cool down his boat.

“The boat must be soaked in water frequently to prevent the wood from shrinking. Ever since it lied ashore like this, I must splash water twice a day.”

Phuc added that the boat consumes more than 1,200 liters of oil per trip and so far this year, he has made only two trips when the oil price still stayed below VND25,000 per liter.

Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

Nguyen Van Phung, 40, fixes his boat, which has remained idle for over a month.

“There has never been a year when so many boats lay idle at once," Phung says, adding oil prices remain at an “unprecedented” high level.

Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

In Quang Binh Province, there are more than 1,200 fishing boats, with more than 350 ashore.

Le Ngoc Linh, head of the province’s fishery department, said the number of boats kept at bay will rise soon as fuel prices escalate but seafood prices stay the same.

Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

Nguyen Van Dung said it used to cost him VND120-130 million ($5,100-5,570) for one offshore trip, including the cost for oil and food but now the expense has climbed to VND220-330 million.

Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

“Each of my offshore trips now costs 30 percent more than before at VND130-140 million,” says Hoang Van Minh, 34.

In many cases, fishermen cannot break even, he said.

Fuel price hike keeps fishing boats at bay

Nguyen Van Thuan (L), 45, is among those still managing to set sail.

To cut costs, he had his son join the crew without being paid, and hires just one more sailor, accepting to work harder but earn less.

 
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