21.09.2022, 14:09

Ship owner loses everything to IUU violation

Empty-handed in a flash

On August 1, 2022, Binh Dinh Department of Foreign Affairs suddenly received Official Letter No. 2894/LS-QBHCD from the Fund for the Protection of Vietnamese Citizens and Legal Entities Abroad (Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs) on the payment paid for the cremation of fisherman Nguyen Dao (SN 1970) who died in Pontianak (Indonesia).

The official dispatch stated: Fisherman Nguyen Dao from Binh Dong commune (Binh Son district, Quang Ngai province), went to Binh Dinh on the fishing boat number BD 93277 TS of Nguyen Thi Sang in Cat Minh commune (Phu Cat district) as the ship's owner and her husband Truong Van Cuong (SN 1968) in the same locality as the captain.

On April 8, 2021, while fishing boat BD 93277 TS was illegally fishing in Indonesian waters, it was detained by the country's competent forces. All six fishermen on board were detained at the Pontianak Fisheries Control Camp (Indonesia). During the detention period, fisherman Nguyen Dao died at 8 pm on December 31, 2021. Fisherman Nguyen Dao's body was cremated and is currently being preserved in Indonesia.

Notice of Binh Dinh Department of Foreign Affairs sent to Phu Cat District People's Committee claiming that the owner of the fishing boat BD 93277 TS must pay cremation money to bring the ashes of fisherman Nguyen Dao from Indonesia back to Vietnam. Photo: V.D.T.

According to the Official letter of the Fund for the Protection of Vietnamese Citizens and Legal Entities Abroad, based on Point D, Section 6 of Official Dispatch No. 732/CD-TTg of the Prime Minister on the prevention, reduction and termination of Vietnamese ships and fishermen illegally infringing foreign waters, it is compulsory for the violated fishing vessel owners to pay expenses to bring the fishermen back home. If the ship owner does not pay, the local government of the violated ship shall hold responsible for paying.

In the case of fisherman Nguyen Dao, while serving the prison sentence at the Pontianak Fisheries Control Camp (Indonesia), Dao fell ill and died at the camp after nearly 9 months of detention, so the owner of the fishing boat BD 93277 TS must be responsible for paying all costs to bring the ashes of fisherman Nguyen Dao back to Vietnam. The cost of cremation is Rp 19,742,250, equivalent to VND 39.5 million.

Binh Dinh Department of Foreign Affairs has notified the above issue local government and requested Phu Cat District People's Committee to guide the owner of the fishing boat BD 93277 TS to pay expenses related to the cremation of fisherman Nguyen Dao to the account of the Fund for the Protection of Vietnamese Citizens and Legal Entities Abroad.

Ship owner loses everything to IUU violation

Binh Dinh fishermen stayed in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province listening to Binh Dinh's inter-sectoral mission disseminating IUU regulations. Photo: V.D.T.


Upon receiving the above information, fisherman Truong Van Cuong felt immense regret. Apart from losing a crewmember due to disease, and now Cuong became empty-handed after just one illegal fishing trip. The family's property, the fishing boat worth 70 gold bars along with the equipment was confiscated by Indonesia. Not only was he imprisoned in a foreign country, but his wife and children at home had to borrow VND 80 million to "redeem" her husband, now he also had to pay for the cremation of the dead crewmember while being detained. It’s the reality: Misfortunes never come in singly.


Hefty price

Working with the People's Committee of Cat Minh Commune, the husband and wife of the fishing boat BD 93277 constantly complained about the current situation of the family. On Cuong’s part, after being confiscated by Indonesia, he returned home and did not know what to do to earn a living while he still had the duty to raise his three children to study. After suffering a stroke, all the money his wife had saved for so long was gone. Plus the incident that just happened and a new sickness within, Sang's body, already frail, is now more emaciated. Sang and Cuong still have to spend VND 39.5 million to bring the remains of crewman Nguyen Dao back home. The owners of the fishing boat BD 93277 TS do not know where to find the money.

Chau Van Hung (right), Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of Cat Minh Commune (Phu Cat District, Binh Dinh) having a chat with a fisherman from Cat Minh entering Vung Tau to work. Photo: V.D.T.

From 2006 up to now, Truong Van Cuong fishing boat 93277 TS has never returned to Binh Dinh, clinging to Vung Tau fishing port to operate. After each trip, he anchors the ship in Vung Tau and gets on a bus to visit his wife and children, or Nguyen Thi Sang takes a bus to Vung Tau to visit her husband.

When the incident occurred, Cuong was detained for 7 and a half months. At that time, Nguyen Thi Sang had to run around to borrow VND 80 million to guarantee her husband's return. Except for crewman Nguyen Dao, having no one to redeem him and died while in detention, the remaining four crewmembers were also bailed by their wives.

According to Chau Van Hung, Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of Cat Minh Commune (Phu Cat District), the commune currently has 169 fishing boats, but most of them are of small capacity, only 10 of them are over 15 m long. From 2005 backward, the fishing industry was still profitable thanks to the sea full of fish. But from 2005 onwards, anyone lucky enough might have a little profit after each trip, the rest is just enough for expenses or losses. “At that time, the ship was small but fishermen had to pay a lot of money to get one ship, so most of the fishermen had to borrow. Many of them decided to ‘instant borrow’ 1 gold bar from outside, and each year they must pay 1.3 bar, meaning a 30% interest. Each fishing boat with a length of less than 15 m at that time cost 50-70 gold bars to build. Borrowing that much just to build a ship, so failing to do business meant becoming insolvent.”

Tran Van Phuc, Director of Binh Dinh Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, disseminating IUU regulations for Binh Dinh fishermen “residing" in Vung Tau. Photo: V.D.T.


Authors: Vu Dinh Thung – Le Khanh

Translated by Samuel Pham