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Vietnam government commits to stopping ‘blue boats’

Papua New Guinea Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Mao Zeming has welcomed the announcement by Vietnam’s Government that it will step up efforts to fight illegal fishing in PNG waters.

Vietnam’s Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam was in Port Moresby last week to hold talks with National Fisheries Authority and government officials.

He also signed an agreement with NFA managing director John Kasu, committing his government to increasing its efforts to stop their boats illegally entering and fishing in PNG waters.

Papua New Guinea loses millions of kina each year to illegal and unregulated fishing.

In recent times, there have been increased incidents of illegal entry into PNG waters by “blue boats” from Vietnam to steal fishery products such as sea cucumber (beche-de-mer).

The term “blue boat” is used by the fishing industry to describe the blue wooden boats from Vietnam that frequently invade waters of Pacific countries to fish illegally.

Last December, 50 Vietnamese fishermen were caught in Milne Bay waters with 2.9 metric tons of sea cucumber, worth almost K900,000 (US$279,000).

They were convicted by the court and jailed, and each was also ordered to pay a fine of K20, 000 (US$6,273).

“I welcome the commitment by the Government of Vietnam to step up its effort to stop the ‘blue boat’ invasion. This illegal fishing denies our village fishermen and women in Milne Bay, Manus, Bougainville, New Ireland and New Britain income worth millions of kina.

“For many families, small scale artisan fishing is their primary source of income, and our job as a government is to protect and promote that.”

Zeming said the agreement between the two countries strengthens ongoing efforts in the region to combat illegal and unregulated fishing. He added that the NFA would continue its collaborative efforts with Police, PNG Defence Force and Customs to prevent illegal fishing in the waters of PNG.


SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

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