Kiem ngu Viet Nam
Fisheries Surveillance Force
The Fisheries Surveillance Force, [or Fisheries Inspection] the first of its kind in Vietnam, made its debut in a ceremony held in the central city of Da Nang on 16 April 2014. It was formed under the Prime Minister’s Decree No. 102/2012/ND-CP dated November 29, 2012 and Decision No. 3285/QD-BNN-TCCB dated November 28, 2012. The predecessor Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance (Cuc Kiem ngu Viet Nam) was established on 25 January 2013.
In an interview with Global Times, Dai Yan, a Chinese Air Force Colonel commented: "Vietnam established the fisheries protection force is to deal with the Fisheries Administration of Customs of China. In fact, fishery control Vietnam is a paramilitary force established to provide a presence in order to minimize the risks of military conflict with China. An increase in the frequency of side collisions arising with China is foreseeable, the collision over the South China Sea in the future will increase, but will not lead to military conflict."
The force, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development [MARD] Directorate of Fisheries, is tasked with detecting, controlling, and handling violations of Vietnam’s fisheries laws and regulations that occur in the country’s sea areas. It will also help ensure safety for fishermen and their vessels at sea as well as monitor and manage the country’s fisheries resources.
The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai, and representatives from many other ministries and agencies. Addressing the ceremony, Deputy PM Hai lauded the agriculture ministry and the Ministry of Defense for their efforts in building the force. He asked the agriculture ministry to coordinate with relevant agencies and localities to direct the force to fulfill the entrusted tasks in accordance with local and international laws.
Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development said that in 2013, the ministry sent 100 boats to control fishing activities at sea and caught many foreign ships intruding into the country’s territorial waters. All these foreign vessels were driven away, he added.
A fishing boat owner, Nguyen Minh Vuong, of south-central Binh Dinh Province, said, “We used to be fearful of harassment by foreign vessels. They intimidated us and cut off our nets. Without any protection, we had to leave our fishing grounds. Now that the fisheries surveillance force has been set up, we can call them for help.” A fisherman in central Quang Ngai Province’s Ly Son Island, Duong Huong, who has been illicitly detained by Chinese boats many times, said, “The fisheries surveillance force will help prevent Chinese boats from encroaching on Vietnam’s seas for illegal fishing.”
The fisheries surveillance force comprises a Fisheries Surveillance Department, which is located in Hanoi, and four sub-departments. These sub-departments are stationed in areas along the country’s coast from northern Quang Ninh Province to southern Ca Mau Province.The force set up hotlines for the department and its sub-departments. Whenever fishermen want to seek help with any problem they may face at sea, they can make phone calls to the hotlines to get support from the units.
The establishment of the fisheries surveillance force is a reiteration of Vietnam’s sovereignty rights and jurisdiction in the East Sea. The most important duties of the force are to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and ensure safety for fishermen and their vehicles in the country’s sea areas. The country had about 1 million fishermen along with 120,000 fishing boats operating at sea. The fishing industry has been regarded as one of the key economic sectors in Vietnam. In the coming time, the force will submit to the government a plan for its development from now until 2030. The plan will include measures to provide more support for fishermen when they fish in Vietnamese seas.
At the beginning of May 2014, China dispatched Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig and a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft, to Vietnam’s waters and positioned it at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude. The location was 80 miles deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone. Chinese ships continuously encircled, constrained and driven away Vietnamese fishing boats and even injured Vietnamese fishermen, threatening their lives.
Chinese vessels were arranged in groups of 8-10 ships including coast guard boats, maritime surveillance ships, fishing boats and tugboats, which tried to get close to Vietnamese vessels with an aim to ram or fire their water cannons at them. Many Chinese ships deliberately blocked Vietnamese vessels in front of the prows so that the foreign ships could be hit by the local counterparts. This was with an attempt to make false scenes in which local vessels were seen ramming the Chinese ships, the Vietnamese fisheries surveillance force said.
Vietnam’s fisheries surveillance ships continued high-intensity opposition to China and demanded it withdraw its illegally placed rig from Vietnamese waters. China deployed its forces, including coast guard ships and tugboats, to aggressively prevent them. Chinese ships were ready to sound their horns, ramp against Vietnam’s law enforcement vessels and fire at them with high-pressure water cannons. However, the Vietnamese forces patiently persisted in their struggle and continued to make their demands of China.
The rig was moved out of contested waters on 16 July 2014, a month before schedule, but it remains unclear if the two countries struck a deal behind the scenes. China said the rig was shifted because its mission had been completed.
Vietnam said 01 August 2014 that all ships under the management of its Fisheries Surveillance Force would be equipped with weapons following a tense standoff with China over a disputed oil rig. Vietnamese and Chinese ships clashed several times during the standoff over the oil rig near the Paracel Islands. Many ships of the force were rammed or blasted with water cannons by Chinese vessels when the Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig was illegally placed in Vietnamese waters from early May to mid-July 2014. Hanoi said several of its fishing vessels were damaged and one sank after being rammed by Chinese vessels.
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