Boat builders criticise new rule

HA NOI (VNS) — Many shipbuilding companies in southern Kien Giang Province have complained about a new regulation that ended the granting of shipbuilding licences as of last month.

The companies said the regulation would cause huge losses, as they were not informed about the regulation earlier.

Last month, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development issued the regulation to end the issuance of licences for fishing vessels. The regulation, which took effect immediately, aimed to prevent the over-exploitation of marine resources and to ensure its sustainability.

“Currently, 12,500 out of more than 31,000 vessels are being operated, while the natural resources are limited. The ministry issued the regulation to stop this kind of exploitation,” head of the directorate of fisheries’ aquaculture exploitation unit Nguyen Van Trung told Tien phong (Vanguards) newspaper.

“The use of these vessels for catching all kinds of fish and seafood has seriously damaged the marine habitat and its ecological balance,” Trung said.

“Kien Giang Province has the largest number of fishing vessels in the country. Thus, the regulation might have a huge impact on local businesses.”

Hundreds of fishermen in the province said vessels, each worth several billion dong, were currently under construction. This means these vessels cannot be used as they will remain unlicensed.

Tran Hoang Minh, the owner of a private business in the province, said he was shocked to learn about the new regulation.

Minh has spent VND14 billion (US$616,000) to construct two fishing vessels, and half of the money has been raised through bank loans.

“The authorities should inform the people about their new policies. The new regulation has created difficulties. They should grant licences to fishing vessels that are being built,” he said.

Do Thi Tuyet Ha, the owner of a private business in Rach Gia City’s Rach Soi Ward, shared Minh’s sentiment, as she could not get licences for four new fishing vessels valued at VND28 billion ($1.2 million).

“I can’t pay my debt if these vessels are not allowed to go offshore,” she said.

Unofficial figures from the province showed that about 80 vessels were newly built or were being constructed.

Nguyen Van Tam, deputy head of the provincial department of agriculture and rural development’s aquaculture unit, said most vessel owners applied for licences when their vessel’s frames were completed, calling this procedure simple.

He said the regulation was issued suddenly, causing difficulties for local businesses.

However, Trung said the ministry had informed many localities before it was issued.

Regional countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia have already banned the activity. Viet Nam will stop issuing licences to more vessels and is likely to ban their operation in the future.

Trung said the provincial authority had revised the list of businesses whose new vessels were unlicensed and would grant licences to those who had their design documents approved before November 16. — VNS