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Penalties For Foreign Tuna Traders, To Secure Domestic Production Vietnam, March 8, 13

“At ports of Quy Nhon in Binh Dinh Province and Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan Province, foreign traders buy tons of tuna before local seafood firms. This is because local fishermen prefer selling their products to foreign traders to get higher returns. Domestic seafood companies can’t afford higher buying prices,” Nguyen Ngoc Duc, Director of De Khang Phu Thanh Seafood Processing Company said.

Exports of unprocessed tuna material caught in the province coastal waters are draining domestic Vietnamese processors from the fresh and frozen raw tuna they need for their production, reports Baomoi.

The Vietnamese government has just announced a draft decree on administrative punishments in the seafood industry for foreign traders.

As a result, a fine of up to VND100 million (USD 4,782) could be applied to firms while individuals could be fined VND50 million (USD 2,391).

Seafood companies have welcomed the regulation, saying that it’s a proactive and efficient solution to foreigners being able to outbid local firms on domestic seafood.

Tran Van Linh, General Director of Thuan Phuoc Trading and Seafood Joint Stock Company in Danang City said the regulation would be an effective measure to prevent purchases by foreign traders as well as deal with domestic seafood material shortages.

Foreign traders have been buying Vietnamese seafood products in the central coastal region. They buy different type of seafood materials at prices much higher than the rates offered by Vietnamese seafood companies.

This has left local traders bemoaning the serious shortage of input materials. Many local seafood firms have to import between 60% and 70% of materials for their production.

Nguyen Ngoc Duc, Director of De Khang Phu Thanh Seafood Processing Company said many traders from Australia, South Korea and Taiwan are also buying Vietnamese tuna and other seafood.

“At ports of Quy Nhon in Binh Dinh Province and Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan Province, foreign traders buy tons of tuna before local seafood firms. This is because local fishermen prefer selling their products to foreign traders to get higher returns. Domestic seafood companies can’t afford higher buying prices,” Duc commented.

He hoped that such high fines would be a good deterrent to illegal seafood purchases in the near future.

Tran Thien Hai, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Shrimp Export and Processing (VASEP) said the regulation would ensure long-term benefits for fishermen as it could protect them from foreign traders being easily able to outbid local buyers.

Difficulties

Many seafood companies are worried that there is little evidence to find of collusion between Vietnamese firms and individuals with foreign traders in buying domestic seafood materials.

Tran Van Linh, General Director of Thuan Phuoc Trading and Seafood Joint Stock Company said many foreign traders come to port to select seafood for their purchases. Vietnamese mediators are responsible for direct purchases.

“It’s really difficult to prove there is a relationship between foreign traders and Vietnamese mediators. If we find any foreign traders buying local seafood materials who refuse to pay a fine we have no other choice but expel them from our country,” Linh commented.

Agreeing with Linh’s assessment, Le Dung, Vice Chairman of Ca Mau People’s Committee said cooperation between Vietnamese mediators and foreign traders was hard to prove.

To ensure efficient implementation of the regulation, it requires tight coordination among relevant agencies so as to detect and prevent possible wrongdoings.

Duong Tien The, Deputy Director of the Directorate of Fisheries’ Aquaculture Department said as this was still a draft decree, the agency is collecting opinions on the issue. It will issue more documents to guide the implementation after the regulation is approved.

“Despite it being difficult, it should be possible to find evidence through conducting inspections,” The added.