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Cablegate: U.S.-Vietnam Fisheries Consultations

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 HANOI 000636

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIS SENV OTRA VM APEC
SUBJECT: U.S.-VIETNAM FISHERIES CONSULTATIONS

1. SUMMARY: A USG fisheries delegation led by the U.S
Department of Commerce NOAA Fisheries and including
STATE/OES and others met with Vietnamese fisheries officials
and visited several fisheries-related activities in and near
Hanoi the week of March 10. Both sides gained insight into
opportunities for future cooperation through the talks.
While the U.S. government is not in a position to provide
financial assistance to the Vietnamese fisheries sector,
there are many ways technical assistance on capacity
building may take place. A Vietnamese delegation will visit
the U.S. in April 2003 and Vietnam will host the annual
meetings of the APEC Fisheries Working Group and the APEC
Marine Resources Conservation Working Group the week of June
9, 2003. These events will continue to build understanding
of what Vietnam's fisheries sector can expect in the
international arena, and how U.S. fishery officials can best
assist Vietnam in sustainable development of its capture
fisheries and its aquaculture programs. END SUMMARY.

2. The 2003 Fisheries Consultations Between Vietnam and the
United States were held on March 10-13, 2003, in Hanoi,
Vietnam. The Vietnamese delegation was led by Dr. Vu Van
Trieu, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Fisheries (MOFI)
International Cooperation Department, and the U.S.
delegation was led by Dr. Rebecca Lent, Deputy Director for
Regulatory Affairs, U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.

3. The meeting between Vietnam and the United States began
with a courtesy visit with Minister of Fisheries, Dr. Ta
Quang Ngoc, who warmly welcomed U.S. delegates and stressed
the importance of the fisheries relationship between Vietnam
and the United States. The head of the U.S. delegation
expressed thanks to the Ministry of Fisheries for hosting
this meeting and spoke briefly of the similar challenges
faced by the United States and Vietnam in conserving and
managing our respective living marine resources.

OPENING REMARKS

4. Dr. Vu Van Trieu, Deputy Director of the MOFI
International Cooperation Department welcomed the delegation
from the United States and noted work by Vietnam to address
fisheries sector development, including on-going efforts to
restructure the fisheries sector to promote aquaculture and
increase deep-water fishing operations. Dr. Trieu stressed
the importance of non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and
International Organization assistance in these efforts. In
addition, he noted that increased bilateral and multilateral
cooperation will bring increased market access, better
management, and technology transfer to Vietnamese fisheries.
Finally, Dr. Trieu briefly reviewed the history of the
fisheries relationship between Vietnam and the United States
and stressed the value of continued and enhanced fisheries
cooperation between the two countries.

5. Dr. Lent thanked the Ministry of Fisheries for their
efforts in organizing and hosting this meeting. She
stressed the similar nature of the challenges faced by the
United States and Vietnam in conserving and managing our
living marine resources and noted the value of cooperation
in addressing these common challenges. Dr. Lent requested
that Vietnam provide specific ideas for future cooperation
between our two countries. Mr. Charles Ehler, Director of
the International Program Office at the National Ocean
Service, NOAA, presented a brief description of the
cooperation already underway between Vietnam and the
National Ocean Service in the Gulf of Tonkin. This work
focuses on capacity building in the Ha Long Bay area to
promote further development of the marine protected area and
integrated coastal zone management, including inshore
fisheries.

VIETNAMESE FISHERIES IN 2002

6. Ms. Tran Thi Mieng, Vice Director of the MOFI Planning
and Investment Department, provided an overview of the
Vietnamese fisheries. The first part of this presentation
related to the current economic situation in Vietnamese
fisheries, focusing on achievements in resource protection,
aquaculture, and fisheries export and processing. The
second part of the presentation looked at the Vietnamese
plan for areas of future development until the year 2010.
It included recommendations for U.S. support in areas
related to training in fisheries monitoring and safety at
sea, aquaculture, U.S. import/export laws and regulations,
and fisheries conservation and management.

7. Dr. Vu Van Trieu, Deputy Director of the MOFI
International Cooperation Department, then provided an
overview of international cooperation relating to the
fisheries sector. He noted that Vietnam receives large
contributions from various sources for fisheries sector work
and provided detailed lists of past, on-going, and possible
future donor projects. Dr. Trieu stressed the importance of
these funding sources to Vietnam and encouraged the United
States to provide assistance for new projects.

POTENTIAL AREAS OF COOPERATION

8. Mr. Nguyen Van Chau, Director of the MOFI Fisheries
Resources Protection Department summarized the current
situation with regard to Vietnamese fisheries resource
protection. This presentation included an overview of
fisheries resources in Vietnam, information on fishing fleet
trends, and activities designed to restructure and improve
the fisheries sector in Vietnam. It also touched on work
that Vietnam would like to do concerning fisheries resource
protection (including integration of management at various
levels, community-based management, marine protected area
and endangered species management, and vessel management)
and enforcement and safety at sea (including vessel
enforcement and accident/emergency response).

9. Dr. Nguyen Van Thanh, Deputy Director of the MOFI
Fisheries Department, provided an overview of some potential
areas of future fisheries cooperation between the United
States and Vietnam. Specifically, Vietnam would like work
on aquaculture (including environmental protection in
aquaculture, seed production technology, farming technology,
and human resources training).

10. The US Delegation responded to these proposals by
noting that the Vietnamese presentations were informative
and helpful in understanding the specific areas of possible
cooperation between the two countries. Given the difficult
budget situation in U.S. federal agencies, there will be a
need to be creative in selecting activities that build upon
existing programs. Dr. Lent noted that in addition to the
National Marine Fisheries Service, The National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) includes the National
Ocean Service (NOS), NOAA Research and the National Weather
Service (NWS). NOS has a number of cooperative activities
with Vietnam (see discussion below). NOAA Research includes
the Sea Grant Program, which is not only involved in
aquaculture research, but also provides for training through
the Sea Grant student-funding program. The National Weather
Service is working with its counterpart in Vietnam on flood
forecasts, and Dr. Lent indicated that NOAA Fisheries would
make contact with their counterparts at NWS upon their
return.

11. In the spirit of working within current programs to the
maximum extent possible, Dr. Lent suggested that the various
NOAA Fisheries programs might be able to host visitors from
Vietnam for 2 to 3 month internships. These visits could be
in science centers, regional offices, or at headquarters,
and cover science, management, enforcement, and other
topics. It was noted that these visits would need to be
funded by Vietnam, for travel and lodging expenses. The
National Marine Fisheries Service can assist with
identifying options for local lodging.

12. Dr. Lent also noted that the types of aquaculture
research and technical assistance contained in the
cooperation proposals might be more appropriate for the
academic community. Through the Sea Grant program and other
avenues, NMFS may be able to assist their colleagues from
Vietnam in making contact with appropriate university staff.

13. Dr. Loh-Lee Low described the Fisheries Science Centers
of National Marine Fisheries Service that have research
programs that could offer cooperative opportunities for
Vietnamese scientists. The mission of the Science Centers is
to conduct scientific research programs to generate the best
scientific information for understanding and conserving the
Nation's living marine resources and the environmental
quality essential for their existence. The Science Centers
cover a wide geographical range and diversity of species
that are bound to cover the scientific interests of
Vietnamese scientists.

14. The Centers conduct research on the economically
important resources and their interactions with ecologically
related species and their ecosystems. The Centers conduct
resource surveys and analyze the data with commercial
fisheries data collected through programs such as the
Fisheries Observer Programs. The Observer programs place
biologists to collect scientific data from fishing vessels
and processing plants. These survey and data gathering
programs offer opportunities to train Vietnamese scientists
on the finer techniques of collecting data for stock
assessments.

15. The Centers analyze data to determine the population
dynamics and status of the stocks and evaluate impacts of
fishing and effects of environmental change on the resources
and their ecosystems. The Centers also have social
scientists and economists who evaluate impacts of
alternative fishing strategies on the fishing communities.
These programs can further offer training opportunities for
Vietnamese scientists. While there are many opportunities
for cooperative programs between our Fisheries Science
Centers with Vietnam, there are no identifiable financial
resources that have been set aside to execute such programs.
However, there may be opportunities for case-by-case
cooperation when the research interests of some of our
programs match those of Vietnam.

16. Mr. Charles Ehler, who serves as the Vice-Chair of the
World Conservation Union's (acronym is IUCN) World
Commission on Protected Areas, outlined the responsibilities
of the National Ocean Service, particularly in the areas of
coastal management and marine protected management. He
pointed out that habitat management is the common link
between coastal, marine protected area, and fisheries
management. He then described progress on an existing two-
year (2002-2004) NOAA project with the Ministry of
Fisheries, Institute of Fisheries Economics and Planning
(Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi), and IUCN-Vietnam to build capacity for
integrated coastal management (ICM) in the Gulf of Tonkin,
with a focus on Ha Long Bay. Hal Long Bay is one of only
twelve Marine World Heritage Sites in the world. It lies
within a region that will develop significantly over the
next 10 years. The project will sponsor a socio-economic
assessment workshop in Ha Long Bay from 18-20 March, a
workshop on integrated coastal management in April, and a
mid-term project evaluation meeting in the United States in
October. Mr. Ehler also noted coastal management training
opportunities for Vietnamese participants in Coastal Zone
'03, an international conference in Baltimore, Maryland,
from 13-17 July, and IUCN's World Parks Congress, an
important meeting of the world's protected area managers and
scientists, that will be held in Durban, South Africa from 8-
17 September, 2003.

17. While the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) was unable to attend
this meeting, they have expressed a willingness to cooperate
where possible to address Vietnamese training interests
relating to fisheries enforcement and safety at sea. The
U.S. delegation provided a number of paper and CDROM copies
of the USCG International Training Management Handbook and
one possible training pipeline scenario that might be useful
to Vietnam in its training decisions. The complete catalog
is also available at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-
ci/affairs/handbook/index.htm.

18. While the USCG provides at-sea enforcement in U.S.
fisheries, the National Marine Fisheries Service Office of
Law Enforcement is charged with dockside inspections and
investigation of possible fisheries regulation/law
infractions. The U.S. delegation encouraged the Vietnamese
to consult the provided information and develop specific
training interests for the future. It was agreed that the
U.S. would consult with the Vietnamese MOFI point of contact
and appropriate USCG and NMFS enforcement personnel to begin
examining possible future training opportunities and discuss
funding options.

19. The U.S. delegation also encouraged Vietnam to join the
International Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS)
Network and committed to providing further information on
this important enforcement organization. This is a no-cost
option for increasing enforcement capability in Vietnam.

20. Discussing assistance to Vietnamese personnel on U.S.
export-import laws, regulations and procedures, the U.S. and
Vietnam reaffirmed the importance of maintaining a
relationship based on free and fair trade. Vietnam
expressed its desire to join the World Trade Organization
(WTO) as soon as possible. The United States welcomed this
news and noted that Vietnam's engagement in a range of
multilateral and regional fora, such as APEC and the FAO,
was exactly the right approach to inform its policies and
gain influence in the world arena. The U.S. offered to
assist Vietnam in acceding to the WTO.

21. The United States highlighted the rapid increase in
imports of fisheries products from Vietnam as an example of
expanding commercial relations between the two countries.
Both the United States and Vietnam acknowledged that recent
trade frictions were business-to-business matters and do not
reflect policy differences on trade relations between Hanoi
and Washington, D.C.

22. The U.S. trade regime was characterized as open and
transparent. The United States agreed to help Vietnam
better understand its trade system where possible, including
through bilateral exchanges of information such as these
talks provide. The United States considered it worth noting
that the U.S. administration, including the Executive Branch
Agencies of the Department of Commerce and the U.S.
International Trade Commission are compelled to go forward
with a trade case once it is initiated and, therefore, the
Administration has no discretion to halt the process.
Vietnam expressed their desire that this case be addressed
in a fair and accurate manner.

23. Both sides shared their experiences and views regarding
the interruption of imports caused by issues related to
antibiotic residues. Vietnam expressed its interest in
receiving training in the area of food safety and sanitary
and phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures.

24. Finally, it was pointed out that the Vietnam Embassy
and Consulates in the United States can help Vietnam with
its exports to the United States. At the same time, the
U.S. Embassy in Hanoi can assist with imports from the
United States.

U.S. PROPOSALS/REPORTS

25. The U.S. encouraged Vietnam to accede to the UN
Agreement on Fish Stocks and the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) Compliance Agreement, and to implement
the FAO International Plans of Action (IPOAs) and the Code
of Conduct. The U.S. provided website addresses for copies
of their NPOAs on sharks, seabirds, capacity and illegal,
unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU). Vietnam
indicated that they were fully aware of the FAO plans of
action and were implementing these through their various
activities.

26. Regarding the Status and Trends issue at FAO, there was
discussion of how Vietnam can get some assistance in
improving the quality and quantity of their reporting on
fisheries. These efforts will improve the quality of stock
assessments, which are so critical to improved fishery
management.

27. The group reviewed the outcome of the COFI meeting
discussion regarding FAO-CITES cooperation. Three documents
from the meeting were noted: 1) Workplan - completed at
COFI; 2) The establishment of the advisory body - completed
at COFI; 3) The MOU - will require further work.

28. Vietnam noted that they have a sea turtle project
underway with the assistance of WWF, IUCN, and TRAFFIC.
Vietnam has a number of protected areas that are nesting
beaches for these sea turtles. In 1997, Vietnam and other
ASEAN members signed an MOU on ASEAN Sea Turtle Conservation
and Protection. In 2001 Vietnam also signed an MOU on the
Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their
Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia. Vietnam
is also developing an NPOA for sea turtles. Dr. Lent
expressed appreciation for the activities underway in
Vietnam regarding sea turtle conservation. She noted that
in the United States, a number of fisheries have been
subjected to severe restrictions, including closures,
because of sea turtle by-catch. In many cases, some of the
species (particularly leatherback and loggerheads) have
nesting beaches in Vietnam.

29. The APEC Fisheries Working Group has completed several
projects that could be useful to address aquaculture
problems raised by Vietnam. For example, the 1999 Import
Risk Assessment project explains detailed procedures that
can be used to prevent the spread of shrimp virus through
imported seed, or larvae.

30. Work is just beginning on a new project, approved at
the FWG meeting in Lima last year that will look at two
important studies that should be completed before an
aquaculture project is started. One evaluation should look
at environmental sustainability of an aquaculture project.
The other evaluation should consider economic
sustainability. Economic sustainability can be determined
by an analysis of domestic and international market demands
for the planned aquaculture model. For example, a project
for salmon aquaculture is probably not a good idea, because
too many companies are already producing salmon and the
prices are low.

31. June 2003, Vietnam will be hosting a joint
meeting of the APEC Fisheries Working Group and the Marine
Resources Conservation Working Group. The two sides
discussed preparations for these working group meetings and
for an industry roundtable to be held in conjunction with
these meetings.

32. COMMENT: Following the talks, the USDel traveled with
MOFI staff to visit Provincial officials at Ha Long Bay, in
Quang Ninh Province. In talks with People's Committee
officials and with Provincial fisheries officials, the
delegation learned more about the Province's plans for the
future and the problems it faced in implementing them. A
boat visit to Ha Long Bay itself, a World Heritage site,
gave the delegation insights into marine environment user
conflicts that face the Bay. The delegation also visited
Hai Phong City. There they visited with the Research
Institute of Marine Fisheries and its fisheries research
vessel. The final stop was a visit to the Ha Long Fisheries
Corporation. This State-owned enterprise appears to be
facing severe economic difficulties.

33. This cable was cleared by OES/OMC:Stetson Tinkham.

PORTER

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