VietNamNet Bridge – The draft decree of pecuniary penalty on the violations in seafood trade says the fine of up to VND100 million would be imposed on the institutions which join forces with foreign merchants to collect aquatic materials in the domestic market.
If the draft decree gets approved, this will be for the first time the punishment for the behavior like that to be legalized.
The new regulation has been applauded by domestic seafood companies, which many times complained that they have been thirsty for materials because they cannot scramble for materials with foreign merchants.
Tran Van Linh, General Director of Thuan Phuoc Seafood and Trade Company, has noted that the new punishment regulation would certainly help prevent foreign merchants from scrambling for aquatic materials with domestic seafood companies, thus helping ease domestic enterprises’ thirst for materials.
Foreign merchants have been flocking to Vietnam to collect aquatic materials directly from fishermen at the ports, especially in the central region.
Most of them are from China. They have been collecting all the things they can, from cheap small fishes for animal feed, to shrimp, crabs and tunas. In order to compete with domestic enterprises, Chinese merchants accept to offer higher prices to fishermen.
As a result, Vietnam’s aquatic materials have been “bleeding” across the border, while domestic enterprises don’t have materials to keep production. A report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said Vietnamese enterprises have to import 60-70 percent of materials needed for their production.
According to Nguyen Ngoc Duc, Director of De Khang Phu Thanh Seafood Processing Company, said not only Chinese, but the merchants from Australia, South Korea and Taiwan have also come to scramble for materials.
At the ports in Quy Nhon City in Binh Dinh province and Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan, foreign merchants can collect many tons of tunas in front of Vietnamese enterprises. Since foreign merchants pay higher prices, Vietnamese fishermen prefer selling fishes to them instead of Vietnamese companies.
Tran Thien Hai, Chair of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said the new regulation would benefit Vietnamese fishermen as well.
Vietnamese fishermen many times tasted the bitterness from doing business with Chinese merchants, who ordered big amounts of products but did not come back to get deliveries, or they ran away after receiving products without making payment.
However, though applauding the new regulation, many exporters have said they are not sure if the regulation can be implemented, because it would be very difficult to find out the evidences to prove that domestic merchants join forces with foreign merchants to collect materials.
According to Linh from Thuan Phuoc Company, most foreign merchants come to Vietnam as travelers. They do not choose aquatic materials themselves, but they do this through Vietnamese merchants.
Therefore, Linh said, competent agencies would have no reason to punish fishermen, because they sell products to Vietnamese. It would be impossible to punish Vietnamese merchants, because they always make verbal agreements instead of written contracts. Meanwhile, if foreign merchants say they don’t have money to pay fines, they would simply be expelled from Vietnam.
Deputy Chair of Ca Mau province Le Dung has also expressed his worry that it’s difficult to punish the violators who are always very crafty. However, Dung thinks that the heavy punishment would, to some extent, deter the violators.
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