Vietnam pledges protection for fishermen caught in SI, citizens advised to watch out for VBB’s

The detained Vietnamese Blue Boats at the Aola Patrol Boat base in Honiara. Photo: FFA Media

Vietnam’s foreign ministry is doing all they can thus vowed to give its citizens who have been arrested for illegal fishing in the Solomon Islands due protection, Vietnam News Agency reported.

“The Vietnam embassy in Australia, also in charge of affairs in the island nation (Pacific), is working with the local authorities for clarifications, the ministry’s spokesman Le Hai Binh told reporters at a press briefing on Thursday in Hanoi.”

The three Vietnamese blue boats (VBB’s) were seized including its 43 crews by the Solomon Islands Maritime Police at Indispensable Reef near the Coast of Rennell Island on Thursday night.

The 43 Vietnamese are currently detained at the Rove Police Headquarter.

They will be now investigated for illegal fishing and trespassing into Solomon Islands state waters.

The operations have been successful with joint effort of RSIPF, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Attorney General Office, Customs, Bio-security and Environmental health.

An inspection carried out on the boats by Bio-security officers discovered marine species and lots of food stuff. The marine species include Bech-de-mer, white teeth fish, pineapple fish, tiger fish.

A fourth VBB’s escaped because of distance and darkness.

Meanwhile, Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Surveillance Commander Gavin Baker during a special media briefing held at the FFA on Friday advised Solomon Islanders to watch out for the Vietnamese blue boats that are coming in numbers to steal our marine resources.

He said it is everyone responsibility to keep an eye open and on the lookout for the VBB’s.

“For the good of your economy, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on these robbers.

“The central message is that be responsible for your waters,” Baker told local reporters.

He then encouraged people to report to them (FFA or police of any future sighting and location of the boats.

Solomon Islands Police escorted the 43 Vietnamese fish poachers upon arrival at the Aola Patrol Boat Base in Honiara. Photo: FFA Media

“Blue boat” is the name given to blue Vietnamese build wooden fishing boats between 10 to 15 meters long.

They are ocean going vessels moving into the Pacific Islands waters in search of reef resources such as sea cucumber, giant clams, trochus, lobster and fish.

Early this year four of these “Blue boats” were arrested by the New Caledonia Authorities for fishing illegally in the northern reefs of their country.

These boats are known to be equipped with scuba and hookah diving gears and experienced fisheries divers with capacity to clean a reef of its resources in a day.

Also increasing numbers of the alleged ‘blue boats’ are sighted illegally fishing in South Pacific waters, like in Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Palau, Micronesia and in northern Australia.

Last year (2016), 10 Vietnamese boats were detained in Australian waters, with 121 of 146 fishermen sentenced and 32,000 tonnes of bêche-de-mer detained.

The boats have been also sighted for the first time in Vanuatu this year and now in the Solomon Islands waters.