Revised Fisheries Law: Expectation of removing the IUU bottlenecks

The Fisheries Law (revised) that was just passed at the fourth session of the 14th National Assembly, contained a number of innovations, particularly regarding the issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. This is expected to contribute positively to the deletion of EU gold cards with Vietnamese seafood while avoiding Vietnam's similar situation in other markets.

Vietnam Fisheries

Individuals who violate regulations on IUU can be fined up to 1 billion VND.

Legalize the IUU commitment

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Vu Van Tam, the Fisheries Law was amended in accordance with the principles of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the FAO Agreement on State Port, the United Nations Agreement on straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, the FAO guidelines for responsible fisheries, the FAO International Plan of Action for IUU Exploitation, the FAO Guidelines for Flag State Performance, focus on the 9 recommendations of the European Commission (EC).

Referring to the innovations in the Fisheries Law, Deputy Minister Vu Van Tam said that in order to raise the awareness and responsibility of the people in fisheries resource protection, the Law stipulated for co-management in aquatic resources protection. This provision creates the legal basis for the State to grant management rights to community organizations in the protection of aquatic resources. This is a new management approach adopted by many countries in the management of fisheries, especially aquatic resources.

Noteworthy, in this Fisheries Law, the content of IUU appears quite bold, as defined in the Articles and Chapters of the Law. Specifically, on the licensing of aquatic products, the Law provides for the quota of a fishing license, the output for exploitation. The determination of fishing license quotas is based on the results of surveys and assessments of fisheries resources, namely reserves and yields for sustainable exploitation. Fishing licensing is decentralized to Provincial People's Committees. This is a new step in comparison with the 2003 Law on Fisheries in line with the international law on the protection and preservation of fisheries resources.

"The Fisheries Law of 2017 derives from a scientifically based approach that is based on fisheries resources. At present, fisheries resources are being over-exploited. We will manage the fishing effort by licensing fishing vessels as well as building new fishing vessels and will come up with a prohibition on seasonal fishing according to the type of fishing that is currently taking place. The 2003 Law on Fisheries stipulates that this is not possible. With the status of Vietnam being withdrawn by the European Commission (EC), Vietnam is forced to take this issue seriously", said Deputy Minister Tam.

In addition, the noteworthy point in the Fisheries Law of 2017 is that the Act introduces strict sanctions against acts of IUU fishing. Specifically, individuals with violations such as ship owners, captains etc., the maximum penalty up to 1 billion VND and the organization is 2 billion VND. The law also mentioned the content to withdraw the mining license, or not re-issue the mining license etc.

Wait for feedback from the EC

Exchanging with reporter of the Customs Newspaper, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Sac, Vice Chairman of Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), Head of IUU VASEP Executive Board, General Director of Hai Nam Co., Ltd (HAI NAM Co., Ltd): Many of the issues related to overcoming IUU issues as required by the EC have been codified in the Fisheries Law (amended). More importantly, the law dealt with penalties for violations when fines amounted to 1 billion VND for individuals and 2 billion VND for organizations. "This point has satisfied the major requirement of the EC to increase the deterrent effect on IUU violations. With such deterrent, new people focus on fishing strictly according to regulations", Ms. Sac said.

However, as the reporter questioned, new regulations in the Fisheries Law (amended), especially the legislative content of the IUU, were sufficient to help Vietnam address the issue of "yellow cards" by the EU as well. Similar warnings from other countries, she said, need to wait for more feedback from the EC. In fact, although Vietnam has legalized the content of the IUU, not all content can comply with the requirements of the EC. The EC will consider whether the amendment from Vietnam is appropriate or not, seeing relatively sufficient compliance points, instead of asking Vietnam to meet 100% of the requirements. In the coming time, to overcome the recommendations from the EC, to resolve the withdrawal of "yellow card" with Vietnamese seafood, the workload to do is very large.

Deputy Minister Vu Van Tam stressed that Vietnam has and continues to act aggressively so that within six months of the "yellow card" warning, the green card will be withdrawn from the EU. The Prime Minister has issued the Official Telegraph 732/CD-TTg on the prevention, reduction, and termination of Vietnamese fishing vessels and fishermen fishing illegally in foreign waters. In the official statement, if the situation continues to happen for fishermen to illegally exploit the waters of the country, the chairman of the provincial People's Committee will be responsible to the Prime Minister. As for businesses, VASEP has also implemented a voluntary program of seafood exporters to the EU to not buy and sell illegal catch. From the perspective of MARD, the Ministry also has a National Action Plan with the strong entry of local businesses. In the near future, MARD will set up a working group to take urgent measures to get rid of the yellow card.

Around the story, how to solve the "IUU problem", Mr. Nguyen Viet Thang, Chairman of the Vietnam Fisheries Association said that: "We need to aggressively implement solutions to overcome the "yellow card" from EC through the participation of state management in conjunction with fishermen, associations, full implementation of IUU regulations, certified, certified, recorded, monitored etc. The issue here is to realize that the story is not just of the fisheries sector but of the management system itself.

Duc Quang / Huu Tuc

Vietnam Custom News

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