Age-old co-operation in fisheries
Vietnam and Denmark has developed an age-old co-operation in fisheries, which was marked by a beginning in 1975 when Denmark provided Vietnam loans to build freezing facilities. In the early 1990s, Vietnam was one of 20 developing countries in the world to receive support from the Danish Government and the co-operative ties between Vietnam and Denmark have gradually been expanded since then.
In 1993, via the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the Danish Government provided support for Vietnam’s fisheries with a mandatory sponsor via the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation to develop projects on ‘Upgrading Vietnam seafood products’ and ‘Overview of seafood processing’.
In 1994, the bilateral co-operative ties between the two countries were raised to a new height when Vietnam’s fisheries was selected as one of three major economic sectors in which Denmark’s development assistance would be concentrated on. Since then, the sector has received support from DANIDA.
One of the first activities of DANIDA was to help the Ministry of Fisheries in Vietnam develop a master plan for the local fisheries sector until 2010. This project with a total investment capital of US$600,000 was carried out for three years, from 1995 to 1997, and helped Vietnam’s fisheries identify its strategies and policies for its future development.
The project was followed by other projects, such as ‘Seafood Export and Quality Improvement Project (SEAQIP), first phase’ with an investment capital of US$5.8 million and ‘ALMEV, first phase’ with a total investment of US$2.342 million, which were implemented from 1996 to 1999.
After great successes in these projects, the Danish Government has selected fisheries as one of the three major economic sectors in which it would prioritise its support. The two governments decided to sign an agreement named ‘Fisheries Sector Programme Support (FSPS)’ in Copenhagen in 1999, which would receive the largest support valued at US$40.5 million from Denmark.
FSPS effectively supports Vietnam fisheries
FSPS opened up a new development period in bilateral co-operation between Vietnam and Denmark. From individual projects, co-operation has developed comprehensively into a programme with five components, namely Strengthening of the Fisheries Administration (STOFA); ALMEV, second phase; Support to Freshwater Aquaculture (SUFA); Support to brackish Water and Marine Aquaculture (SUMA); SEAQIP second phase; and Support to Industry Restructuring and Enterprise Development (SIRED).
Vu Van Trieu, acting director of the International Co-operation Department of the Ministry of Fisheries, said that the programme had run effectively, making an important contribution to a rapid and sustainable development of Vietnam’s fisheries with seafood export turnover increasing from US$1.8 billion in 2000 to US$2.3 billion in 2003.
The five components of the programme have gradually achieved their targets. Within STOFA, a management information system from central agencies to some major seafood producing provinces and aquaculture research institutes has been formed. Data collection from commercial fishing fleets continues to be implemented and act as an important database for the assessment of the fishing volume and fishing supervision and statistics. Many analysis works on training for the fishing industry and fisheries extension work have been developed. Also, the component has helped upgraded vocational training schools of the fisheries sector, providing managerial skills and knowledge, as well as training in information technology and foreign languages for cadres in the Ministry of Fisheries.
Poverty reduction and hunger elimination is an important target of the Vietnamese Government. This is also a target of DANIDA. With the development of aquaculture techniques for poor farmers as well as fisheries extension and management in SUMA and SUFA, Denmark has helped Vietnam reduce poverty and hunger. Also, training and credit support for aquaculture development have also helped achieve targets in gender issues. The co-operation with women’s unions has encouraged women get further involved in aquaculture development. Access ways with the involvement of farmers have been boosted within aquaculture extension activities. This has helped increase the involvement and responsibility of farmers in using resources.
Component SEAQIP has contributed to promoting Vietnam’s seafood export. The component continued to help Vietnam develop hygiene standards according to international ones, train technicians and provide equipment for a centre for seafood quality, hygiene and veterinary examination. Within the component, systems for waste water treatment have been built in some seafood processing enterprises. The systems, in fact, are good environmental protection models for local enterprises to multiply.
SEAQIP has also helped promote the implementation of a sustainable and effective environment in terms of cost in the processing industry. SEAQIP and SIRED have organised many training courses for enterprise managers, which have been highly appreciated by local enterprises. The implementation of these components has generated more jobs and contributed to Vietnam’s economic development.
SIRED has organised training courses on the Government’s policies on equitisation and enterprise leasing, as well as provided direct consulting services for enterprises, developing projects on the renewal of enterprises.
Apart from direct programmes and projects for Vietnam’s fisheries, the Danish Government has signed agreements to provide support for three environmental projects in Vietnam, including a project on supporting a maritime reserves network in Vietnam, valued at DKK 16.5 million. The project aims at helping Vietnam build a legal framework and policies on the management of maritime reserve areas and the implementation of management rules in the Cu Lao Cham reserve area.
Co-operation within fisheries has boosted co-operative ties between Vietnam and Denmark. For the ties to develop further, Bjarne Henneberg Sorensen, former Danish ambassador to Vietnam said at the 10th anniversary of cooperation between Vietnam and Denmark in the fishery sector organised last June that the Danish Government would continue to provide further support for Vietnam’s fisheries, especially it would develop the second phase for FSPS.