Vietnam to review licensing of foreign boats for fishing and seafood trading

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Vietnam's agriculture minister has asked the Portal Directorate of Fisheries to review licensing of foreign boats to fish and buy fish in the country's waters, the ministry announced on Friday.

Minister Cao Duc Phat has also ordered the directorate to ask authorities in provinces and cities to report on their distribution and lease of waters to aquaculture activities "related to foreign factors."

The ministry made the move after authorities in the central province of Phu Yen claimed that they had difficulties in managing Chinese nationals' presence in aquaculture activities in the Vung Ro Bay, because the directorate had licensed Chinese boats to enter all Vietnamese waters to buy seafood.

Phu Yen authorities, together with their counterparts in the central province of Khanh Hoa, have been under fire since late last month when local media reported that many Chinese nationals were operating aquaculture farms in local bays without local authorities' awareness or proper supervision.

Following the reports, Khanh Hoa authorities have expelled seven Chinese nationals for not registering for temporary residence, while they were working for a farm in Cam Ranh Bay and other local aquaculture businesses. The farm is between 200-250 meters from the Cam Ranh Military Port.

According to the authorities, they have so far detected 23 Chinese nationals illegally working in aquaculture in the province.

Meanwhile, authorities in Phu Yen are still investigating the licensing of Chinese people to work at local aquaculture companies, although they have accepted responsibility for not supervising the foreigners closely.

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Earlier, Thanh Nien reporters found that the Thuan Hoang Company had applied in 2010 for licenses for three Chinese people to work for the company, but, in fact, the foreigners acquired licenses to breed fish on their own. Local authorities also granted licenses to Chinese workers at several other companies.

In other related news, officials in the central province of Quang Ngai told Thanh Nien that Chinese forces chased a local boat out of the waters of Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago while it was fishing there on Wednesday.

Nguyen Thanh Hung, vice chairman of Binh Chau Commune, said ten fishermen were on the boat belonging to Dang Tam, 39, when the Chinese attacked them.

He said the Chinese also assaulted Tam's boat earlier on February 22, causing damages of over VND300 million (US$14,300).

According to Bui Hong Van, chairman of Binh Chau Fishery Association, since the beginning of this year at least six local fishing boats have been attacked by Chinese forces when they were fishing in Hoang Sa's waters.

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