On October 23, 2017, the European Commission (EC) issued an official “yellow card” warning against IUU exploitation of Vietnamese seafood and recommended the key tasks to be implemented.
Since then, all of Vietnam’s containers of seafood products exported to the European Union have been subjected to intense scrutiny which could take three to four hours of inspection each.
Nguyen Quang Hung, deputy director of the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that it was important to push the implementation of the EC’s recommendations.
Around early June 2019, EC’s Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries would conduct a fact-finding trip to Vietnam to inspect the implementation of four recommendations related to the fight against IUU fishing.
"The main shortcomings of Vietnamese systems to fight against IUU fishing include an outdated legal framework and weak systems of control of the activities of the Vietnamese fishing fleets," said Hung.
Since 2016, Vietnam has been confronted with the illegal activities of the Vietnamese ‘blue boats’ in the waters of neighboring countries in Southeast Asia and other Pacific islands countries.
'Blue boats' represent a clear risk for the sustainability of marine ecosystems and are creating serious problems for small Pacific island countries that have strict bans on their fishermen regarding the harvest of these species, which has been seen as the main reason for EC’s issuance of yellow card warning against Vietnamese fisheries.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said that localities nationwide had to implement sufficient drastic measures to deal with the warning.
The situation of ‘blue boats’ has been partially addressed since the adoption of the yellow card with the number of arrests of Vietnamese vessels in remote areas in the Pacific having decreased.
Another complicating factor is that there is an uneven enforcement policy on ‘blue boats’ among different provinces.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong stressed that in order to meet all the requirements of EC, Vietnam needs to mobilise human and financial resources to implement the necessary measures, including accelerating the installation of the tracking system on fishing vessels.