Numerous proposals put forward to help fishermen

Tuoi tre Newspaper
06:18' CH - Wednesday, 02/08/2017

Supporting fishermen in supervising the shipbuilding, allowing fishermen to choose their own insurance companies ... are proposals set forth at the review conference of the shipbuilding program under the Decree 67 of the Government, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung in the morning of August 01, 2017.

Duc Trieu steel fishing vessel BD 99478-TS of Mr. Nong Thanh Dien, a fisherman, from Cat Thanh Commune, Phu Cat District (Binh Dinh) has operated from October 2016. According to the shipo wner, the vessel operates stably and makes profit from each voyage – Photographer: PHAM TIEN SY

20 years ago, banks and the state budget spent about VND1.5 trillion on the offshore fishing program, of which banks disbursed VND9 trillion to the shipbuilding program under the Decree No. 67 of the Government.

Though expected to be an opportunity to modernize the fishing fleet and take part in the protection of sovereignty, this major policy was affected by the breakdowns of 40 fishing vessels just built under the shipbuilding program after several voyages.

Steel-clad vessels are 15-20% more efficient than wooden boats

Mr. Tran Chau, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Binh Dinh province, said that this province has nearly 300 newly-built vessels under the Decree No. 67, so far 58 vessels have been completed, most of these vessels are steel-clad ones and fishing efficiency has been improved considerably.

In particular, offshore fishing production was from 188,000 tons in 2015 to 210,000 tons in 2016.

With respect to steel-clad vessels, among 45 vessels which have been put into operation for from one to nine trips, 24 ones have recorded good production, accounting for over 53%, making an average profit of VND60-80 million/trip, 15-20% more efficient than wooden boats with the same capacity.

11 out of 15 unproductive vessels were on the list of vessels subject to vessel quality claims.

With respect to damaged steel-clad vessels, “9 shipbuilding establishments have built 47 new offshore fishing vessels in Binh Dinh, including 20 vessels supplied by Nam Trieu Shipbuilding Company Limited and 5 vessels supplied by Dai Nguyen Duong Company.

However, main equipments such as main engines, auxiliary engines, detectors, positioning machines, etc... of the vessels built by Nam Trieu Company have seriously malfunctioned after the second trip. Nam Trieu Company has replaced broken ones with genuine engines made by Mitsubishi.

Previously, rusty vessels were painted with 1-2 layers but now properly coated with 5 layers of paint and all equipments on board are replaced with new ones. Steel-hulled vessels built by Dai Nguyen Duong became rusty while their detectors and auxiliary engines broke down.

For this incident, the relevant agencies continue to take samples of steel, if steel fails to meet standards for Class A steel, replacement will be made. Binh Dinh planned to complete the repair of broken vessels by the end of August.” Mr. Chau added.

Not only in Binh Dinh, the incident of newly-built vessels being broken after a short time going out to sea also happened in Quang Nam, Thanh Hoa provinces, etc. with the total number of damaged vessels being 40.

According to Mr. Chau, in the shipbuilding program under the Decree amending the Decree No. 67, Binh Dinh province requested the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and Department of Fisheries to take part in supervising shipbuilding stages and testing stage.

This will make the quality of vessels better than that gained when the shipbuilding is monitored independently by fishermen at shipbuilding establishments.

It is advisable to allow fishermen to select insurance companies

Another difficulty faced by fishermen is insurance for ships and fishermen. So far, as many as five vessels in Binh Dinh have not received indemnities from insurance companies.

Mr. Dao Cong Thien, Deputy Chairman of Khanh Hoa Province People’s Committee, worried that if the Decree No. 67 ends on December 31, 2017, from whom fishermen will buy insurance in 2018, fishermen cannot go out to sea without taking out insurance.

Regarding hull insurance, Mr. Chau revealed that Pjico Insurance Corporation was appointed by the Ministry of Finance to provide hull cover, when selling insurance to fishermen, insurance companies complete procedures quickly but when indemnifying fishermen, they always delay.

“A vessel sunk in October last year but has not been indemnified, so far. Therefore, the Ministry of Finance is hereby requested to allow fishermen to select their own insurance companies, not to appoint only one company” – Mr. Chau proposed.

Mr. Thien further suggested: “It is necessary to study to devise a insurance policy for ships operating in the area over which Vietnam declared sovereignty but faced with difficulties, rammed and sunk by foreign vessels”.

Mr. Cao Duc Phat, Deputy Head of the Party Central Committee's Economic Commission, also requested the Government to instruct the Ministry of Finance to review the hull and fishermen insurance guideline because if this stage has problems, other stages will be affected.

Not to concentrate on developing more vessels

“The Government should also pay attention to improving the surveillance system, it is imperative to monitor the system of fishing vessels at sea. At the same time, it is essential to set out stricter requirements for inspection, examination, violation handling in accordance with legal regulations.” Mr. Cao Duc Phat added.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, the marine economy contributed around 55% of GDP. However, the Deputy Prime Minister admitted that the control of the quality of newly-built fishing vessels has still met with difficulties recently.

“The quality of fishing vessels depends on shipbuilders. If vessels break down not due to users’ faults but due to shipbuilders’ faults, shipbuilders must compensate for such breakdown. Any violation, wrongdoing must be sanctioned strictly according to legal regulations” – he mentioned.

Exchanging with the press, Deputy Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development Vu Van Tam told that registrars who leave out omissions with respect to broken vessels would be seriously disciplined. He also revealed that this Ministry had investigated fish and shrimp production.

In the next time, the Government will divert its attention from building more vessels to building good-quality vessels and improving efficiency of the fleet.

Raising credit limits and diversifying types of loans

Regarding difficulties in accessing capital, the number of vessels built under the shipbuilding program was very large but only few vessels obtained loans from banks. As stated by a representative of the State Bank of Vietnam, this is because fishermen sell fish for cash, so they have no account for deduction of bank loans, banks find it risky, thus hesitate to make loans to them.

According to a representative of the Drafting Committee of the Decree amending the Decree No. 67, this issue will be resolved by increasing credit limits and diversifying types of loans. Of which, the Drafting Committee also devises an one-time support policy after investment for vessels with a capacity of 800 CV or more, or vessels changing jobs from drift netting which has been abolished to gillnetting, fishing, logistic services with the maximum support level of VND8 billion /vessel.

Besides, the working capital loan policy (the maximum amount is VND200 million with the term of 12 months). Localities also proposed a three-month repayment or one-year extension schedule (at present, fishermen repay their loans on a monthly basis).

Clearly providing for responsibilities of relevant units

“In the Draft Decree amending, supplementing the Decree No. 67, it is necessary to focus on setting up a mechanism for mobilizing resources for construction of and synchronous investment in fishery infrastructure, essential items of grade-1 ports, regional storm-sheltering anchorage zones.
Investment shall be made in construction of main fishing ports at 5 big fishing centres, including Hai Phong, Da Nang, Khanh Hoa, Ba Ria - Vung Tau, Kien Giang.

In funding, it is necessary to apply an appropriate lending mechanism and to supplement the risk handling mechanism for working capital loans.

Regarding loan interest rate support, providing support until December 31, 2017 and focusing on implementing the one-time support after investment for newly-built vessels in order to be included in the amended decree.

It is also essential to clearly provide for responsibilities of relevant units in monitoring the building of new ships, disbursements of loans in service of the building of new ships, upgrading fishing vessels” – Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung emphasized.

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