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Vietnam mulls seasonal fishing ban to replenish stock

Monday, August 05, 2019, 15:15 GMT+7
Vietnam mulls seasonal fishing ban to replenish stock
Fishing vessels in Khanh Hoa Province. Photo: Thai Thinh / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam’s fisheries watchdog is considering a seasonal fishing ban in Vietnamese waters, expected to take effect from 2020, to protect and replenish the country’s marine resources.

The “temporary ban and restriction on fishing activities in Vietnamese waters” scheme is being studied by the Directorate of Fisheries under the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, an official from the agency told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

The scheme is being finalized and the prime minister's approval will be sought for it later this year, with the actual ban expected to take effect from 2020, the official said.

While there are still concerns about the ban’s effects on fishermen’s livelihood and social security, it is a necessary step that Vietnam must take to ensure a sustainable fishing industry, the source added.

The fisheries directorate has also included in its scheme plans to help fishers switch to other jobs such as aquaculture and seafood processing during fishing-restricted seasons.

Vietnamese fishermen unload their catch after a fishing mission. Photo: Thai Thinh / Tuoi Tre

Vietnamese fishermen unload their catch after a fishing mission. Photo: Thai Thinh / Tuoi Tre

The proposed ban is Vietnam’s response to recent alarming reports of diminishing fish stock at the country’s traditional fishing grounds, especially in inshore waters which are popular fish breeding sites, due to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Bui Thanh Ninh, who owns ten fishing boats operating near Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) islands in the East Vietnam Sea, said his vessels’ catches have dropped by around 40 percent in volume in recent years compared to before.

Weathered fisherman Nguyen Van Manh, who had just returned from a six-month offshore fishing mission, estimated he had lost VND200 million (US$8,600) on the fishing trip due to underwhelming catches.

For months, 50-70 percent of the vessels at a fish port in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province of southern Vietnam have remained docked.

“Many fishing vessels are being put up for sale but nobody is interested because there is nothing to do with them now that marine resources have been depleted,” a fisherman said.

Two Vietnamese women process seafood at a fish port in Khanh Hoa Province. Photo: Thai Thinh / Tuoi Tre

Two Vietnamese women process seafood at a fish port in Khanh Hoa Province. Photo: Thai Thinh / Tuoi Tre

In June and July this year, the number of ships setting off on fishing missions from the Hon Ro port in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa has dropped by half compared to the same period of last year, according to the port management.

Vo Khac En, deputy director of Khanh Hoa’s fisheries department, said around 50 percent of the province’s fleet of 768 offshore fishing vessels have been grounded due to the lack of marine resources.

In Kien Giang Province, located in the Mekong Delta, the number of fishing vessels setting sail in July went down by around 40 percent from June, according to the provincial border protection force, which monitors the vessels’ activities at sea.

“Only when our marine resources are replenished can the nation’s fisheries industry be saved,” said Kien Giang chairman Pham Vu Hong.

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