Stephen Fisher, Sea Delight’s Sustainability Director, attended a Vietnam Hook and Line Tuna Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) stakeholder’s meeting in late April. The meeting was held in Hanoi and hosted by the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development – Department of Fisheries (MARD D-Fish) led by MARD D-Fish Director – Department of Science, Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Dzung.
Meeting attendees included representatives of MARD D-Fish, major conservation NGO’s, International Tuna Importer and Distributor FIP Members, and Vietnam-based tuna Processors.
The topics of the meeting were the ongoing gaps and delays in some MSC Performance Indicators in the FIP work plan, and ways to resolve some of the issues causing these gaps and delays. In a prepared statement, the collective FIP Representatives called on MARD D-Fish to:
- Identify the Limit and Target Reference Points for tuna that are compatible with WCPFC measures and to determine Total Allowable Catch for yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack tuna.
- Re-commit to an expanded National Observer Program that includes data collection, monitoring, and reporting on sharks and sea turtles.
- Commit to implementation of the Vietnam Shark National Plan of Action.
- Improve the bycatch mitigation strategy in Vietnam hook and line tuna fisheries.
- Clearly apply the precautionary and ecosystem approach to tuna fisheries management.
Stephen Fisher stated Sea Delight’s firm support for the recommendations submitted. He reminded MARD D-fish to bear in mind that major seafood buyers in the US and EU now have online tools that are constantly monitoring FIPs and their progress, and that our customers expect real progress in the FIPs we source seafood from them.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Dzung and her team responded to all points raised by the FIP Representatives. MARD D-fish explained that some activities have taken more time than planned partly due to issues with funding, technical concerns, and completion of scientific work. They assured the assembly that Vietnam would release a comprehensive Tuna Management Plan, including Harvest Control Rules, Limit and Target Reference Points, Catch Limits and limits on the number of vessels operating in each province. This will be released in early 2019 and that the Vietnam hook and line tuna fishery would be the “pilot project” for improved fishery management in Vietnam.
They also announced Vietnam has completed a “Roadmap” for full membership in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
Sea Delight hopes these promised actions are completed in a timely manner and the Vietnam Tuna FIP makes real progress towards the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainability certification. As this progress is made it will be reported here.