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Fishermen unaware of new EU rule   2009-12-07 - VNN/VNS

 Fishermen will be required to keep a report on each individual fishing trip in order to meet the EU’s illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) regulation, which takes effect in less than a month, according to the Vietnamese Department of Fisheries Resource Management.

Starting on January 1, 2010, businesses exporting fishery products to the EU will have to follow the IUU regulation which requires all businesses to show their fishing permits and origin of product, including the vessel name and fishing field.

The Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development organised a two-day conference which wrapped up yesterday to officially outline the process of implementing the new regulations.

Many fishermen demonstrated a lack of knowledge about the regulation at the conference.

Tran Duy Uy, owner of a 105hp fishing vessel based in Nghe An Province said: "It wasn’t until this conference that I knew anything about this regulation. We’ve never had to report our catches before. We don’t know how to make these reports and we’re concerned that they might not buy our products if we fill in the reports in a wrong way."

Uy has seven employees who are paid VND2 million (US$110) per month. He said his business alreadly faced many difficulties and it would get even harder with this new rule.

Phan Van Hai, another fisherman in Quynh Lap Commune, Quynh Luu District in Nghe An, who has three years experience in keeping reports as part of a fisheries programme, said, "Previously we kept a product report which we gave to the Fisheries Products Research Institute for 190hp vessels but that was only once, at the end of the year. Now we’ll have to keep track of each individual trip which is very cumbersome and time-consuming and will slow down our business."

He added that many workers on boats lacked elementary schooling so completing the records would prove difficult.

Pham The Hien from the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, is an experienced fisherman who owns three 400hp vessels. "The most difficult part of doing a report is categorising the products. Each trip we catch dozens of fish species, but not every worker is going to know their scientific or Latin names," he said.

Local authorities are equally worried. The Fisheries Resource Management division in many provinces have not had funding to implement the project. "Each province has only one staff member responsible for the work," said Tran Binh, Thua Thien Hue division representative.

The regulation has complicated work for export business in countries like Viet Nam where the fisheries industry is not highly modernised. Viet Nam has 130,000 vessels of which only 16 per cent have a power greater than 90hp. The rest are small boats working beyond local authority control.

Chu Tien Vinh, head of the Department of Fisheries Resource Management, eased people’s concerns and said fishery products caught this month would not yet have to follow the regulation. The EU would also provide technical help and more human resources.

He added: "Filling in a report isn’t that big a problem because workers only have to fill in dates and latitude of the fishing places in provided notebooks. Fishermen are not used to this process but once the regulation is in effect, they will have to follow it."

The EU is Viet Nam’s biggest fisheries export market, accounting for 30 per cent of total export value. The number of EU countries that receive Viet Nam’s exports increased from 14 to 27 this year. Deputy Ministry of the Agricultural and Rural Development Luong Le Phuong underlined the importance of the EU market for Viet Nam. Fishery products have the highest export turnover in Viet Nam, having reached $3.94 billion in the first 11 months of this year

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