A number of coastal Vietnamese provinces have begun installing satellite tracking devices on fishing vessels to prevent ships from trespassing into foreign waters.
Repeated offenders will have their fishing permit revoked, in what is seen as Vietnam’s effort to urge the lifting of a “yellow card” warning issued since October 2017 by the European Commission (EC) for the country’s failure to meet requirements on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing prevention.
The initiative will also help make Vietnamese seafood eligible for fisheries certificate of origin.
On a monitor screen installed at a control center in Ca Mau, 19 flashing green dots could be seen over the waters of the southernmost province and the nearby Kien Giang Province, representing locations of ships that have been installed with tracking devices.
Parameters including the ships’ speed, fuel consumption, voyage history and amount of fish caught during their trip are all monitored by the center, according to Nguyen Viet Trieu, deputy director of Ca Mau’s fisheries department.
A similar system has also been launched in the neighboring province of Kien Giang, said Nguyen Van Tam, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Officials can also tune in at any moment to view CCTV cameras installed on the boats, as well as locate nearby vessels to send S.O.S. signals in case of an emergency.
|An official monitors fishing vessels’ activities at a control center in Ca Mau Province in southern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
When a tracked ship is about to enter foreign waters, the system is designed to automatically send a warning signal to the ship owner and authorities.
Ship owners can view live details about their ship from a mobile app installed on their smartphone.
The information is also shared with the local border guard command and the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Such information will serve as concrete proof that Vietnamese ships operate legally within the nation’s maritime territory in the event of them being accused of trespassing by a neighboring country, Trieu said.
Through details about the volume and coordinates of each catch, authorities can have the legal grounds to issue certificates of origin for the seafood, increasing the value of Vietnamese seafood when exporting to foreign markets.
According to the border guard command of Ca Mau, over VND5 billion (US$215,000) in fines were issued on Vietnamese fishing vessels in 2017 for trespassing into foreign waters.
Since the launch of tracking devices, the number of violations has dropped significantly in the first months of 2018, it said.
Le Viet Su, deputy chairman of Ca Mau, said the province is looking to install tracking chips on around 1,500 local fishing vessels that are 15 meters long or higher, out of the province’s fleet of 4,500 boats.
Vessels that are required to install tracking devices will not be allowed to set sail until they have been bugged, he said.