Several fishing vessels inactive in Kien Giang Province

These days, along the Cai Be River to the Ba Lich Rivulet, the section through Vinh Hoa Hiep, Vinh Hoa Phu and Binh An communes in Chau Thanh District in Kien Giang Province, several offshore fishing vessels are mooring here although it is the main fishing season of the year. The owners of these fishing vessels said that since the beginning of this year, lots of them were not able to head for the open sea due to losses.
Several fishing vessels in Kien Giang Province are mooring at the dock although it is the main fishing season of the year. (Photo: SGGP)
Several fishing vessels in Kien Giang Province are mooring at the dock although it is the main fishing season of the year. (Photo: SGGP)

There are around 9,845 fishing boats of above six meters in length in Kien Giang Province. Of which, the number of offshore fishing vessels of above 15 meters in length is nearly 4,000 vessels with annual average production of around 500,000 tons. According to the Department of Fisheries of Kien Giang Province, the preliminary survey showed that around 600 fishing vessels of above 15 meters in length have had to moor at the dock for several months.

Because of the current situation, authority forecast that this year, fisheries production of Kien Giang Province will drop by 17 percent compared to last year.

Although it has entered the main fishing season of the year, there are lots of fishing vessels berthing along the banks of  Cai Be and Cai Lon rivers and Tac Cau Fishing Port, the biggest fishing port in Kien Giang Province. Mr. Nguyen Van Loi, a trader in Vinh Thanh Van Ward in Rach Gia City said that in the past few months, the amount of seafood collected merely accounted for 50 percent of that in the same period last year. Seafood was not able to sell at high prices as they were all small fishes and cheap fishes whereas the amount of high-value seafood, including shrimps, squids and mackerels was a few.

According to many fishing vessels’ owners, if they go to the sea they will definitely suffer losses. As for small-capacity and outdated fishing vessels, fishing is more difficult. Many renowned fishermen in the industry were unable to withstand so some households have sold their vessels and switch to do other jobs.

Mr. Nguyen Van Dieu in Vinh Hoa Phu Commune in Chau Thanh District in Kien Giang Province said that his family has 18 fishing vessels with capacity of 500-1,000 CV, but since the beginning of this year, 12 fishing vessels had to harbor while the rest six vessels went to the sea perfunctorily.

According to Mr. Dieu, the source of fish has dropped and the price of squids has also declined while fuel prices have strongly climbed. In addition, it is difficult to look for sailors. Sometimes, sailors flee when the vessel merely reach the sea mouth, causing it to be unable to go to the sea to catch fishes.

The cost, including basic necessities, fuel and salary for 25 fishermen, for each sea voyage of two vessels is around VND2 billion. If it goes smoothly, they will catch around 50 tons of fishes, of which, there are 20 tons of small fishes which are used to produce feed for cattle and poultry, 30 tons of several kinds of fish and 2 tons of dried squids. If they are able to sell their harvested fish at good prices they will collect more than VND2 billion then the trip is profitable, otherwise it will be a failure.

Mr. Le Thanh Dung, the owner of 12 offshore fishing vessels in Vinh Hoa Hiep Commune in Chau Thanh District, is also in the same situation. Since the beginning of this year, only six of his fishing vessels go to the sea while the rest six vessels have to stay onshore. He said that the fact that large-capacity fishing vessels increase sharply and catch fish all year round instead of following the fishing season, has led to exhaustion in seafood resource. Fishing is spontaneously and the Government neither have any regulation on fishing season nor any guide on how many days a year that fishermen are allowed to go fishing; in which season and in which territorial waters. Therefore, the fishing grounds do not have time to rest and restore seafood resource. In addition, vessel’s owners also have to pay monthly interest and other expenses if they borrow money from banks to build new vessels or upgrade their vessels. If they do not catch any fish or shrimps, they will be in huge debts.

Difficulties in fishing also caused fishing-related activities to be idle. Some facilities have been sold, closed or shifted to other jobs. Mr. Nguyen Van Loc Anh, an ice block producer at Tac Cau Fishing Port, said that his ice factory has a capacity of 5,000 ice blocks per day but now it has to operate at 40 percent of its capacity due to losses as several fishing vessels did not go fishing so they did not buy ice blocks.

It is essential for the Government and coastal provinces to take measures to restore the seafood resource which is exhausting seriously in the fishing grounds. At the same time, they should synchronously carry out solutions to reduce inshore fishing and strictly punish destructive fishing practices.

Banks should continue to support fishermen to overcome the difficult situation. At the same time, it is crucial to adjust prices reasonably so as to help fishermen to avoid the situation of ‘high cost, low income’.

According to Mr. Nguyen Van Tam, director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Kien Giang Province, in order to create conditions for fishermen to go to the sea, it requires participation of departments, of which the work force must be ensured. The Government should consider moratorium policy during the time fishing vessels are idle or exploit ineffectively for fishermen to maintain fishing industry.

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