To Stop Overfishing, Vietnamese Agency Bans Shipbuilding
Authoities in the southern province of Kien Giang have stopped issuing licenses to newly built vessels in an attempt to limit overfishing, local media say.
“The natural resources are limited. The ministry issued the regulation to stop this kind of exploitation,” Directorate of Fisheries spokesman Nguyen Van Trung said.
He added that the province has the largest concentration of fishing boats in the country and that the ministry had expected the regulation to have a significant impact on businesses.
Local fisherman said that many unlicensed vessels, collectively worth millions of dollars, were already under construction or had recently been delivered.
One fisherman, Tran Hoang Minh, told media that he had spent $600,000 on two new fishing vessels. "The new regulation has created difficulties. They should grant licences to fishing vessels that are being built," he said.
Officials differed on whether shipbuilders had been given adequate notice of the new regulations, but ultimately all may be well for current owners: the Directorate of Fisheries said that it would grant licenses to all who had received approval for design documents before the middle of November. The decision will affect around 80 newbuilds.
But prospective owners will not be able to get licensing for any more vessels, effectively resulting in a fisheries shipbuilding ban in the province going forward.
Other southeast Asian countries have also been taking severe measures to curtail overfishing. Indonesia recently trialed a ban on foreign-built vessels in its EEZ after finding that about 80 percent were engaged in unlawful activity, and Malaysia has banned fish exports and, starting early next year, the use of trawl nets. Vietnam may move forward with further regulation, including restrictions on the operations of existing vessels.
Unusually poor labor conditions, notably the enslavement recently documented on some Thai and Indonesian vessels, have kept overhead low for the expansion of some Southeast Asian fisheries operations.