Vietnamese fishermen’s livelihood would be ensured
Updated: 7/28/2015 8:48:12 AM GMT + 7
A broken fishing boat is towed by the 2009 coast guard vessel to Van Phong Bay, located in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, in a photo provided by the coast guard force. Photo credit: Vietnam Coast Guard
A broken fishing boat is towed by the 2009 coast guard vessel to Van Phong Bay, located in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, in a photo provided by the coast guard force. Photo credit: Vietnam Coast Guard
Based on policies and strategies regarding national marine economic growth, I aspire that in the next 20 years, the State and society would ensure a sustainable livelihood for local fishermen so that they would stay dedicated to their job.

The assurance is not only about poverty eradication, stabilizing fishermen’s life, and spurring economic growth, but is also about ensuring national defence and safeguarding the country’s sovereignty over its seas, islands and borders.

Inadequate investment

These days, as the world resonates with a mutual message of peace and independence, many Vietnamese people have ached at the repeated attacks targeting local fishermen’s boats which were fishing for aquatic products in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa waters, with damage amounting to billions of dong. 

Vietnamese fishermen’s means of living, as well as the country’s national sea sovereignty, are increasingly threatened.

Our country is currently in its global integration process, with the world tending to "feed the mainland based on seas.” In that context, recognizing a "marine Vietnam” and its stature in the country’s economic development strategies presents a new, comprehensive outlook on the country’s "economic portrait.” However, it’s evident that local fishermen’s livelihood is yet to receive the attention and investment it deserves, compared to the vast potential and huge profits that the marine economy has contributed to the national economy.

According to statistics of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam was home to 117,998 fishing vessels as of 2013. However, the vessel fleet remains rudimentary, as up to 99 per cent of them are built from wood. Between 85 and 90 per cent are armed with engines retrieved from old equipment. Most of them have low power (under 90 CV) and exploitation activities conducted by 76.9 per cent of the fleet are limited to near-shore waters.

In addition, the industry’s workforce of nearly one million is mostly made up of manual workers who lack vocational training. Only a mere 30 per cent of captains and chief mechanics have received training. Fishermen’s liason remains weak, with many still working in isolation, lacking capital and not receiving assistance in times of distress.

Furthermore, the infrastructure meant for aquatic product exploitation remains inadequate, resulting in poor productivity. Fishing performance is also hampered by docking ports which are built on unlevel waters or are under construction. That has left the fishing staff feeling insecure and susceptible in times of rough seas and unforgiving weather.

Integrated solutions needed

To ensure local fishermen’s sustainable livelihood, a comprehensive and long-term solution is that the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should consult the government on planning and issuing policies and guidelines regarding the fishing industry. Such policies need clear, sound development phases.

Specifically speaking, more investment should be made in sea infrastructure, including modernizing fishing ports, wharfs and docking areas as shelter during hostile weather bouts; fishing supply centers; and upgrading residential areas along the coastline and on islands.

In addition, due attention should be given to developing hi-tech fleets for deep-sea fishing. A goal that all vessels engaged in sea exploitation are installed with a GPS device should be worked toward, so that the devices would facitilate prompt rescue of distressed ships or ships attacked or held captive by their foreign counterparts.

It’s critical that the government implement special credit policies to boost investment and radically solve fishermen’s problems in production and life. "Fishermen credit funds” should also be established in the banking system to allow fishermen loans.

Job training for the fishing fleet should also be intensified. They should be guided on how to operate in a model of "managing fishing activities based on the community,” and be encouraged to perform their exploitation proceedings, particulary deep-sea ones, in groups and cooperatives.

It’s also essential that the government provide social ensurance for deep-sea exploiters by combining assistance solutions on health care, housing, electricity, and running water as well as deep-sea devices and techniques. This would be of great significance in improving local fishermen’s performance and nurturing their zeal and dedication.

Incentive policies should also be adopted to lure local and foreign-owned enterprises from different fields in investing in fishing, exploiting, processing and culturing aquatic products. The construction of a mighty coastguard force is also a must so that they can come to vulnerable fishermen’s timely rescue.

After all, each fisherman should boast a sense of purpose and be conscious of the significance of their job, so that they would strive to enhance their skills, and make the most of the assistance provided by the government and society.


Source: Tuoi Tre Newspaper

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