The U.S. and Vietnam have signed a memorandum of understanding, which includes support against illegal “intimidation” of the latter’s fishermen at sea.
The MOU, which aims to strengthen Vietnam’s fisheries management and law enforcement capabilities, was signed by U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, Daniel J. Kritenbrink, and director general of the Directorate of Fisheries (DFISH), Tran Dinh Luan. It did not specify any third party.
“The United States has a great deal of experience in managing fisheries and enforcing regulations, which we are more than happy to share,” Kritenbrink said at the signing ceremony in Hanoi.
“We look forward to working together with Vietnam to strengthen the sustainability of its fisheries and support its fishers against illegal intimidation.”
The MOU would foster greater cooperation between Vietnam, U.S. and international law enforcement agencies to ensure sustainable use of marine resources and combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the embassy said.
Technical assistance from the U.S. would also enhance the capacity of DFISH and the Department of Fisheries Resources Surveillance (DFIRES), both agriculture ministry agencies, through information sharing, best practices and implementation of relevant technical programs and projects.
The U.S. also plans to transfer a training facility in Phu Quoc in southern Vietnam to DFIRES next February, significantly improving the human resources capacity of the agency and fisheries enforcement units in coastal provinces.
The MOU came a week after the U.S. released statements affirming its stance in supporting Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam in disputes with China at sea.
“Beijing uses intimidation to undermine the sovereign rights of Southeast Asian coastal states in the South China Sea, bully them out of offshore resources, assert unilateral dominion, and replace international law with ‘might makes right’,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press statement.
The statement rejected China’s claims to most of the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, including waters surrounding Vietnam’s Vanguard Bank, Luconia Shoals off Malaysia, waters in Brunei’s EEZ, and Natuna Besar off Indonesia.
It dismissed China’s action to harass other states’ fishing or hydrocarbon development in these waters as unlawful.
Featured image: FILE – A Vietnamese sinking boat (L) which was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands, is seen near a Marine Guard ship (R) at Ly Son island of Vietnam’s central Quang Ngai province.
Reporting by Phan Anh @ VNExpress