According to Minister Cao Duc Phat, aquatic resources are rapidly being exhausted due, not simply to fishing boats, but also to offshore fishing vessels that are increasingly operating in the areas close to the shore.
They do so due to fluctuations in the price of materials such as fuel which has greatly increased overhead and production costs, while the prices of what they catch remain virtually unchanged.
"Productivity of aquaproducts in the first nine months has increased but the fishing vessels capacities and product quality are steadily reducing"
Director of the ministrys Aquatic Products Exploitation and Protection Department Chu Tien Vinh
Director of the ministrys Aquatic Products Exploitation and Protection Department Chu Tien Vinh said in accordance with the Governments policy, the Ministry of Finance had temporarily advanced 28 coastal provinces and cities with more than VND1.2 trillion (US$72.7 million), nearly half of which had been paid to fishermen.
Vinh said the Governments decision to help fishermen develop off-shore fishing had contributed to helping localities complete registration procedures for fishing vessels. The cities and provinces of Hai Phong, Da Nang, Thai Binh, Nghe An and Tien Giang have completed these development projects.
The localities will have to tighten control on the operation of vessels, said Tien. Over 48,700 fishing vessels are registered.
Statistics shows that there are about 87,000 fishing vessels in Viet Nam, of which 15,000 are offshore fishing vessels with a capacity of 90 horse power or more; the remainder are small and have a short-range.
Vinh said the sectors total productivity of aquatic products was estimated at nearly 1.6 billion tonnes, an increase of 0.2 per cent compared with that of the same period last year.
"The productivity of aquaproducts in the first nine months has increased but the fishing vessels capacities and product quality are steadily reducing," said Vinh.
To develop offshore fishing, Minister Phat has required localities to apply advanced technology to fishing and preserving products to make a shift in the industry and raise income for fishermen.
Phat said the sector should use money from the fishing promotion fund to push training jobs and inform legal regulations for fishermen. "The ministry will strengthen control on boats and vessels and minimise the number of boats operating near the sea," he said.
Off-shore fishing challenges
Nguyen Van Long, a captain who has spent 15 years offshore fishing in the southernmost Ca Mau Province, says his vessel, which is an out-of-date wooden design, can withstand fifth level winds (a low level which is 61km per hour).
"With a storm as strong as Chanchu, modern fishing vessels from foreign countries will have to look for shelter soon. Our offshore fishing vessels look like toys on the oceans waves," says Long.
Long says the Government has supported him with VND8 million for fuel per trip but he has still lost money. "I know that the Government wants to develop offshore fishing but we cant do it. We have to continue fishing near the shore to maintain a living."
Nguyen Van Phong, who owns a 320 horse- power vessel the biggest in Central Quang Binh Province says a fishing trip lasts from seven to ten days. In the past, one tonne of fish would be enough to cover the costs, now it is 1.5 tonnes.