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Community development

Vietnam Government Empowers Fisherman in Landmark Passage of Amended Fisheries law

05. 01. 2018 Community development

Vietnam is home to one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world, providing habitats including mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds and coastal lagoons for a wide variety of species. Because of this diversity (particularly in commercially valuable species) and its extensive coastline (>3000km), an important sector of Vietnam’s economy is fishing. However, its coastal fisheries are suffering under intense over-exploitation. It is reported that the catch in areas of 50m depth or less is two to three times higher than the maximum sustainable yield (MSY). This simply cannot be sustained.

The country’s fisheries sector is governed by a suite of legislation at both state and provincial levels. The strategic fisheries masterplan has been revised and adopted in 2013  that has the overall aims to increase the added values and sustainable development of the fisheries sector As part of the re-structuring and reform strategies, the government also adopted its NPOA ‘National Plan of Action’ in 2014 to reduce the fishing efforts as well as protection of the fisheries resources part of which involved revising the existing national policies and legal frameworks to ensure sustainability played a more significant role.

On a national level, the sector falls under the purview of the Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), which, with support from Directorate of Fisheries (D-Fish), has overall responsibility for policy formulation and overseeing the strategic National Fisheries Master Plan, which was revised in 2013 and currently involved in the Fisheries Law Revision.

The Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD) is a local NGO working to address challenges facing Vietnam’s fisheries sector. MCD is supporting a pilot of Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) in Binh Dinh Province in Central Vietnam which has advocated this approach to Vietnam’s government and worked with the Directorate of Fisheries to incorporate the appropriate components into the revision of    Fisheries Law 2003. Integral to this approach is co management, whereby the local fisher communities who rely on the  fisheries for their livelihoods, work collaboratively with the government to manage the resource. Empowering these communities has proven to be successful in fisheries management in other jurisdictions, such as parts of the Philippines.


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On November 21st 2017, the National assembly adopted the long awaited amendment to the Fisheries Law and the concept of co-management was put into a legal document for the first time.  Local community groups now have the legal recognition needed to effectively carry out marine resources protection at a local level, including the delegation of fishing rights. The law also integrates climate change, and the fight against IUU, as well as to strengthen management of MPAs (Marine Protected Areas). The government has clearly recognised that giving local communes more power to manage their own resources is the most effective way of managing them sustainably. Collaboration between national/local authorities and communities is essential.

Over the coming year (until implementation on 1st January 2019) next steps include: (i) communication and education so communities understand the amended law’s benefit, (ii) development of under-law documents (decree, circulars, guidelines), (iii) policies to support the fisheries management at both national and local levels including the financial resources, human resources and technical resources (iv) law and regulations enforcement, implementation and monitoring.
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MCD is continuing to work with the Directorate of Fisheries, co-hosted workshops to inform stakeholders of the implications currently working on both the co-management decree and the regulations on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).  The co-management degree is being drafted to cover the most significant issues of recognised community groups and fishing rights in the protection and management of aquatic resources. The MPA regulations are being revised including:  (i) the management structure of MPA, (ii) the coordination mechanism, (iii) sustainable financing including tourism fee in MPA, as well as how to ensure the biodiversity protection in the defined core and buffer zones.

Once the law is implemented, co-management groups will be required to create their own fishery management plans in accordance with the detail found in the decrees and guidelines, with help from provincial and commune level authorities.  D-Fish will develop an action plan to support the co-management and community groups over the coming year and to mobilize the available financial, human and technical resources.

For further information please contact: Ms Than Thi Hien, Vice Director, Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD). Email: tthien@mcdvietnam.org

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