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EU rules challenge Vietnam’s seafood exporters

Vietnam is implementing regulations on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing set by the European Commission (EC), according to the General Department of Seafood (GDS) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), reports the Vietnam News Agency.

Under the regulation, which took effect last January, Vietnamese seafood exported to the European Union (EU) should have certificates verifying the fish have been caught legally, and meet hygiene and safety conditions.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, together with the GDS and the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the EC (DG-MARE), have held training courses on IUU fishing for fishermen and seafood firms, the Vietnam Economic Times added.

It cited the GDS as saying that in the first 10 months of implementing the IUU fishing regulations, agencies have granted nearly 17,000 original certificates and 3,599 catch certificates for over 78,000 tonnes of fishing products in coastal provinces. But there are still many difficulties in implementing the IUU fishing regulations, the department said.

The owners of fishing vessels, for instance, encountered difficulties in maintaining logs and making reports about their operations because of their low literacy levels. Since exporters buy materials through many middlemen, for each batch of goods exported to the EU, export firms had to prepare many certificates, which was a time-consuming and costly process, said Chu Tien Vinh, deputy head of the GDS. In addition, businesses and certifying agencies were also not clear about the seafood species that these regulations did not cover, he said.

MARD will work with DG-MARE to deal with difficulties that Vietnam is facing in implementing the IUU fishing regulations. The ministry has also asked the Department for Aquatic Resources Exploitation and Protection, the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department and the Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers to compile a draft regulation on catch certification, and submit it this month.

The EU is the largest consumer of Vietnamese seafood. By the end of last month, Vietnem reported a fleet of about 130,000 fishing vessels, of which 128,000 specialized in offshore fishing, the department said.


The Locally-Managed Marine Area (LMMA) Network

The Locally-Managed Marine Area (LMMA) Network is a group of practitioners involved in various marine conservation projects around the globe who have joined together to increase the success of their efforts. The LMMA Network is a learning network, meaning that participating projects use a common strategy and work together to achieve goals. The Network is interested in learning under what conditions using an LMMA strategy works, doesn’t work, and why. Network members share knowledge, skills, resources and information in order to collectively learn how to improve marine management activities and increase conservation impact.

The Network’s membership consists largely of conservation projects that are using (or planning on using) an LMMA approach, and includes community members, traditional leaders, conservation staff, academics and researchers, donors, and decisionmakers.

These members span the people and cultures of Southeast Asia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia and the Americas. Some nations have their own countrywide network, which operates independently from, but within, the framework of the overall Network.

The vision of the LMMA Network is healthy ecosystems and communities, abundant fish and other marine resource stocks, and sustainable fisheries utilization; protected marine biodiversity; sustainable development in coastal communities; understanding what communities are doing in managing marine areas; understanding ecological and socioeconomic responses to LMMA implementation; and global awareness of the biological and social-economic science related to LMMAs coming out of Asia-Pacific.

The LMMA Network seeks to spread its vision by networking practitioners (both individuals and organizations) and researchers who are committed to sharing experiences and information on determining the conditions under which locally-managed marine areas can contribute to conservation.


Fishing for Truth:

A Sociological Analysis of Northern Cod Stock Assessments from
1977 to 1990

Alan Christopher Finalyson, Institute of Social and Economic Research,
Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. 1994. ISBN 0-919666-79-5. pp 176

This book tells the complex story of the role of science in the decline of the Northern Cod stocks. At issue are conflicting interpretations of institutional and scientific events, institutional and scientific texts, and scientific data. The central claim of this sociologically informed analysis is that all knowledge, including scientific knowledge, is influenced by social process, and that ‘truth’ is elusive.


The fishermen’s speech seems to abound with instances of figuration, whether the men talk about the sea as mother and as female or refer to its constitution with terms similarly used in speaking about the human body or its physiological/humoral   processes.



Stock Status and Changes in Tuna Fisheries

In a recent FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper, world tuna fisheries are reviewed in terms of commercially important species, by ocean and by major fishing gear types. In volume, the most important catches are of skipjack tuna at 50.7 per cent of the global total, particularly in the Pacific Ocean, followed by yellowfin tuna at 31.7 per cent and bigeye tuna at 10.8 per cent. Albacore and bluefin tunasAtlantic bluefin, Pacific bluefin and southern bluefinare caught in much smaller quantities.

The Pacific Ocean yields more than half of the world’s tuna production (64 per cent), followed by the Indian (25 per cent) and Atlantic (11 per cent) Oceans. The catch by purse-seiners has increased very rapidly and now forms the majority of the total yield (from 0.3 mn tonnes in 1970 to 2.8 mn tonnes in 2006). Longline used to be the dominant gear type but it is now rapidly losing its share (from 0.5 mn tonnes, 34 per cent of the total in 1970, to 0.65 mn tonnes, 15 per cent of the total in 2005), though coastal small-scale longlining is increasing.

Stock status is reviewed according to the most recent, formal assessments by each of the tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs). The review is based on two aspects: whether the biomass (or spawning biomass) is above or below the reference point (RP); and whether fishing mortality is higher or lower than the level equivalent to the sustainable yield, as represented by the RP, which is generally the maximum sustainable yield (MSY). Catches of bigeye and yellowfin have continuously increased in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, whereas in the Atlantic they peaked in the 1990s and thereafter decreased or stabilized. Stock biomass of tropical tunas (bigeye, skipjack and yellowfin) is generally above, but close to, the RP, and the exploitation level is close to the MSY, except for skipjack, which still appears to be underexploited.

Current fishing mortality coefficients for bigeye and yellowfin are generally below the level of the RP, except those for bigeye in the Pacific Ocean and yellowfin in the Indian Ocean, which are above the MSY level. The temperate tunas (albacore, southern bluefin, Pacific bluefin and Atlantic bluefin) are more heavily exploited. In particular, southern bluefin and Atlantic bluefin are both in an overfished state.

The technological and physical development of fishing gear and its deployment is continuously progressing. The most recent change with the greatest impact on fisheries was the introduction of fish aggregating devices (FADs) by the purse-seine fleet. The recent increase in purse-seine catches is directly related to the increase of small-sized tropical tunas caught in association with FADs. At present, nets on FAD schools take most of the fish in the habitat developed under the FAD, hence the species and sizes are highly variable, including many non-target small tunas and other species. Since the stock size of bigeye is small compared to yellowfin and skipjack, the capture of juvenile bigeye underneath FADs has a more substantial impact on the stock. This has significantly altered the yield per recruit (Y/R) of bigeye stocks as well as the allocation of stocks between longline and surface fisheries (particularly purse-seine).

The greater use of at-sea transshipment (mostly by distant-water longline fisheries) and increased use of supply vessels (by purse-seines) have increased the fishing capacity of the fleets, even if the numbers and fish-holding capacity of the fleet have been held constant.

The development of coastal fisheries, including coastal longline fisheries, is also an important feature of the last two decades. This is primarily related to the establishment of exclusive economic zones (EEZs), but is also very closely linked to cost effectiveness and management schemes aimed at distant-water fleets. The establishment of tuna farms has also had a major impact on fisheries, particularly through changes in market price and trade and market structure. As a result of farming, fishing pressure has increased for both large and small fish.

(Source: Miyake, M.; Guillotreau, P.; Sun, C-H; Ishimura, G. “Recent Developments in the Tuna Industry: Stocks, Fisheries, Management, Processing, Trade and Markets. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 543. Rome: FAO. 2010. 125p)


Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature: A Synthesis of the Approach, Conclusions and Recommendations of the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)

The Economics  of  Ecosystems  and  Biodiversity (TEEB) is a major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.

Applying economic thinking to the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services can help clarify two critical points: why prosperity and poverty reduction depend on maintaining the flow of benefits from ecosystems; and why successful environmental protection needs to be grounded in sound economics, including explicit recognition, efficient allocation, and fair distribution of the costs and benefits of conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

The analysis of TEEB builds on extensive work over the last decades. TEEB presents an approach that can help decisionmakers recognize, demonstrate and, where appropriate, capture the values of ecosystems and biodiversity.


ICSF’s Documentation Centre ( has a range of information resources that are regularly updated. A selection:


Salophoum: Learning from Experiences in Villager-led Action Research.
WorldFish Centre, Culture and Environment Preservation Association, The Wetlands Alliance

This DVD is a community produced film made on location in two Salophoum villages in Stung Treng, northeast Cambodia. It forms part of an ongoing social research initiative supported by the local NGO CEPA and the WorldFish Centre. The film documents some of the process and experiences of conducting villager-led research, and includes video interviews with Salaphoum researchers, research assistants, NGO staff and local authorities.

Tankwas: The Papyrus Boats of Lake Tana, Ethiopia by Jean-Yves Empereur
Centre d’ Etudies Alexandrines, Egypt. 2009. 13 min.

Paryrellas, or papyrus boats, are often represented on the terracottas, paintings and mosaics of ancient Egypt. At Lake Tana, 1,850 m above sea level and some 4,000 km from the mouth of the river Nile, papyrus grows to three or four m in height, tucked in behind lines of reeds. The local population use it to make mats, fencing and also frail craft known here as tankwas. This DVD shows how these tankwas are made and used in Ethiopia.


Traditional marine management areas of the Pacific in the context of national and international law and policy.

Marjo Vierros, Alifereti Tawake, Francis Hickey, Ana Tiraa and Rahera Noa. United Nations University. 2010. 93 pp.

This report explores the role of traditional marine resources management in meeting both the goals of communities and those of national and international conservation strategies. Specifically, it looks at how traditional practices are applied in various Pacific Island countries, how concepts such as the ecosystem approach and adaptive management are incorporated, whether traditional marine managed areas (MMAs) are recognized by national law, and how and whether they are seen to contribute to national and international protected areas and conservation targets.

Blue Carbon: The Role of Healthy Oceans in Binding Carbon. Nellemann, C., Corcoran, E., Duarte, C. M., Valdés, L., De Young, C., Fonseca, L., Grimsditch, G. (Eds).  United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), GRID-Arendal, 2009.

This rapid response report highlights the critical role of the oceans and ocean ecosystems in maintaining our climate and in assisting policymakers to mainstream an oceans agenda into national and international climate change initiatives.

It estimates that carbon emissionsequal to half the annual emissions of the global transport sectorare being captured and stored by marine ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses.


Small scale, large agenda

The 25th Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) of the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations (FAO) was held from 24 to 28 February 2003 at Rome. Notably, one of the agenda items was on ‘Strategies for Increasing the Sustainable Contribution of Small-scale Fisheries to Food Security and Poverty Alleviation’. The last time small-scale fisheries was on the agenda of COFI was 20 years ago, in 1983, in the lead-up to the FAO World Conference on Fisheries Management and Development in 1984.

The inclusion of this agenda item was particularly appropriate, given the recently organized World Food Summit and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, both of which focused on the importance of eradicating hunger and poverty. It was also appropriate in view of the process being initiated by the FAO to develop “voluntary guidelines to achieve the progressive realization of the right to adequate food, as a follow-up to the World Food Summit.

The inclusion of this agenda item once again reaffirmed the important role small-scale fisheries plays, especially in the developing world, in providing income, employment and in contributing to food security. What was needed, however, was a much stronger endorsement that the small-scale model of fisheries development is inherently more suitable, even on grounds of environmental sustainability, a key issue of concern today. In this context, it is worth recalling the observation made in the report of a joint study by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Commission of the European Communities and FAO in 1992, titled “A Study of International Fisheries Research:

“…in many situations, the comparative advantages may lie with the small-scale sector. It is labour-intensive, consumes less fuel, generally uses more selective gear, and is less dependent on imported equipment and materials. The small-scale sector’s capital is owned locally, often by the fishers themselves. And because the small-scale fishers depend on resources adjacent to their communities, they have a greater self-interest than large-scale fishers in management of their fisheries.

from Comment in SAMUDRA Report No. 34, March 2003



FAO Technical Consultation for Development of International Guidelines on Bycatch Manage-ment and Reduction of Discards
6-10 December 2010, Rome, Italy

Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Scientific Committee13th Session
6-10 December 2010, Victoria, Seychelles

FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) 29th Session
31 January 2011- 4 February 2011, Rome, Italy


Our Fish, Our Future

Conference for African Ministers, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA)

This civil society web portal covers CAMFA and assembles information about the various activities held by civil society organizations (CSOs) around the conference in Banjul, Gambia, during 15-23 September 2010. The portal also carries the Banjul Civil Society Declaration.


Proceedings of the workshop on “Recasting the Net: Defining a Gender Agenda for Sustaining Life and Livelihoods in Fishing Communities

Thirty-nine participants from 18 countries, including women fishworkers, representatives of fishworker organizations and NGOs, activists and researchers, met at Mahabalipuram, India, during 7-10 July 2010, to discuss the above theme. The proceedings of the Mahabalipuram workshop reflect on what needs to be done to develop a ‘gender agenda’ for sustaining life and livelihoods in fisheries.


This webpage provides statements made by ICSF and other civil society organizations at the CBD COP10 meeting. It also provides links to ICSF publications brought out for CBD COP10.