A project to modernise offshore fishing vessels, which was expected to improve productivity and assure fishermen's safety, has been stalled after three years of implementation.
Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that there were about 23,000 high-capacity offshore fishing vessels operating nationwide, ranging between 250CV and 800CV.
However, most of the fishing vessels were designed poorly and failed to meet technical and structural requirements, said Dang Quang Huy, head of the Department of Aquatic Resource Exploitation and Protection's fishing vessels management board.
Huy also said that the supervision of newly-built vessels as well as regular checks on these kinds of vessels were not strict enough.
Thus, most of the boats posed a risk to fishermen's safety during long days at sea, especially during storms.
He pointed to the example of Huynh Van Minh, a fisherman in central Quang Ngai Province's Nghia An Commune, who recently had his boat sink near Ly Son Island.
The Government's policy on supporting fishermen to build new modern fishing vessels went into effect in 2008 with the hope of improving the situation.
However, surveys from the ministry revealed that only six fishing vessels had been built thanks to the policy's financial support.
According to Huy, the policy stipulated that fishermen had to pay in advance and would be refunded within three years, which deterred boat owners from upgrading their vessels.
"A well-equipped offshore fishing vessel may cost hundreds of millions of dong, and fishermen can hardly afford it. Thus, they had no choice but to build the ship with old methods and parts," he said.
Besides, he added, many fishermen have not been trained about modern equipment on boats and therefore failed to take advantage of new technology.
Deputy director of the General Department of Fisheries Chu Tien Vinh said the Government needed to prioritise infrastructure, such as fishing ports. Moreover, fishermen needed to be trained in how to use satellite receivers, which enabled them to find rich fishing grounds, hear the weather forecast and contact other boats.
Experts also suggested that the ministry should ban low-quality vessels from fishing offshore and support fishermen with low-interest loans or allow them to pay in instalments. — VNS