The government will grant soft loans to fishermen to help them build steel-clad boats that are more effective and safer than their current wooden ones, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said on Tuesday.
The PM made the statement during a meeting with Ha Long Shipbuilding Company, under the Ship Building Industry Corporation (SBIC), which is implementing a program to build steel-clad fishing boats on a pilot basis.
The program is being carried out in the context that China has illegally dispatched its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 to Vietnam’s waters since May 1.
China has also deployed a large number of vessels, including large iron-clad fishing boats, to guard the rig and attack Vietnamese vessels, including fishing boats.
At the meeting in northern Quang Ninh Province, a SIBC representative reported to the Prime Minister that three steel-clad boats have been manufactured under the program and they have been delivered to fishermen for experimental use.
Steel-clad ships cost 60 percent more than wood-clad boats of the same size, but they move faster, consume less fuel, and can operate much safer for a longer time, the representative said.
After getting experience from the manufacture and use of the first boats, the company will put this kind of watercraft into mass production, the representative added.
“The government always wants fishermen to have more modern and safer fishing boats, so it has supported this pilot manufacturing program with a specific financial mechanism,” PM Dung said.
The premier added that he agreed with a proposal to give preferential loans to fishermen to help them turn to use steel-clad boats.
Vu Van Tam, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the country’s off-shore fishing fleet now has about 25,000 fishing boats with a capacity of 90 HP or higher, which can be used for fishing within a range of only 50 nautical miles from the shore.
The country also has fishing boats with a capacity of 400 HP or higher, but they are equipped with simple equipment, so they cannot operate effectively.
On the other hand, all these fishing boats are wood-clad, so they should be upgraded to the steel-clad type soon to make them stronger and safer, Tam said.
In addition, new boats should be built so that the fleet can have 30,000 steel-clad fishing boats by 2020, he added.
2 largest fisheries surveillance ships to be used soon
The same day PM Dung also visited Ha Long Shipbuilding Company’s shipyard, where two fisheries surveillance ships have been built and one of them, KN-781, has been put in a test run.
The ship that is being tested is 90.5 meters long and 14 meters wide. It has a loading capacity of 500 tons and a displacement of 2,000 tons, and can operate continuously in a range of 5,000 nautical miles.
If the test is successful, the vessel will be handed over to the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department this month, the shipyard said.
Meanwhile, the other ship will be completed and provided to the department next month.
Both ships, which are the largest of its kind in Vietnam so far, have been designed by the Netherlands’ Damnen Group in accordance with the European standards, the shipyard said.
After examining the KN 781, PM Dung directed that the SIBC build 12 more ships for the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department.