Europe sends a warning as Vietnam drags its heels on IUU

Yellow card warning for Vietnam The European Commission has given Vietnam a yellow card

The European Commission has fired a warning shot, with a Yellow Card telling Vietnam that it risks becoming identified as a non-co-operating country on the fight against IUU fishing.

According to the Commission, Vietnam is not doing enough to fight illegal fishing. The lack of an effective sanctioning system to deter IUU fishing activities and a lack of action to address illegal fishing activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels in waters of neighbouring countries, including Pacific Small Island Developing States, have been identified.

In addition, Vietnam has a poor system to control landings of fish that is processed locally before being exported to international markets, including the EU.

“With this action today we demonstrate our firm commitment to fight illegal fishing globally. We cannot ignore the impact that illegal activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels are having on marine ecosystems in the Pacific. We invite the Vietnamese authorities to step up their fight so we can reverse this decision quickly. We are offering them our technical support," said Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella.

The decision does not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade. The yellow card is considered as a warning and offers the possibility for Vietnam to take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable timeframe. To this end the Commission has proposed an action plan to support the country in addressing the identified shortcomings.

The Commission decision is a result of a thorough analysis and takes into due account the level of development of the country. It follows a long period of informal discussions with Vietnamese authorities since 2012. Vietnamese authorities are now invited to engage in a formal procedure of dialogue to resolve the identified issues and implement the Action plan.

Since November 2012 the European Commission has been in formal dialogue with several pre-identification/yellow card third countries that have been warned of the need to take strong action to fight IUU fishing. When significant progress is observed, the Commission can end the dialogue (lifting the pre-identification status with a green card). A few countries have not shown the necessary commitment to reforms. As a result, fisheries products caught by vessels from these countries cannot be imported into the EU as they become listed with a red card.

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