Boosting cooperation in ensuring just and humane treatment of fishermen

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung the importance of promoting dialogue and cooperation between ASEAN and China in ensuring the just and humane treatment of fishermen, in a workshop on November 3.

Vietnamese tuna fishermen from Khanh Hoa Province. VNA/VNS Photo

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 3 held an ASEAN-China workshop on promoting cooperation in ensuring the just and humane treatment of fishermen in the East Sea, took place under the ASEAN-China Joint Working Group on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (JWG-DOC). 

The workshop, in both online and offline forms, attracted the participation of over 120 delegates, including senior officials, researchers, legal experts, and representatives from the embassies of ASEAN member states and China in Vietnam and several international organisations.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung affirmed that, as the first activity to implement the DOC so far this year, the workshop is of great significant in contributing to maintaining the momentum achieved. 

Also as the first workshop to be held in the unprecedented modality, it demonstrates the resolve of ASEAN and China to overcome difficulties and challenges as well as creativeness to adapt to the “new normal” with a view to moving forward dialogue and cooperation for the sake of full and effective implementation of the DOC.

Dung said that fishermen constitute the majority of sea-going persons in the East Sea and hold a special position in societies throughout ASEAN and also China.

It is estimated that nearly 200 million people depend on fisheries resources of the East Sea for their livelihood, he said, adding that fishermen, however, remain vulnerable to danger or distress at sea.

He stressed the importance of promoting dialogue and cooperation between ASEAN and China in ensuring the just and humane treatment of fishermen, especially those who are in danger or distress.

“Over the past years, ASEAN Member States and China have undertaken various efforts in providing assistance and ensuring humane treatment to fishermen, including through their implementation of existing instruments related to safety at sea,” Dung said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung addresses the workshop. Source: VNA

In 2010, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers issued the ASEAN Declaration on Cooperation in Search and Rescue of Persons and Vessels in Distress at Sea, which demonstrates ASEAN’s political will to reinforce cooperation in providing mutual assistance to persons and vessels in distress at sea, he added.

This is not just a confidence building measure to implement the DOC. Instead, this is a priority area of practical cooperation that should be promoted for the benefit of fishing communities and the people as a whole in the region, he said.

Participants emphasised the need for long-term support for fishermen, as most face a range of difficulties and challenges in the East Sea.

Many have said it is necessary to adopt an overall approach to ensuring the safety and humane treatment of fishermen, including building a set of tools to address this problem in the East Sea.

Some positive examples – including the experience and actual progress in implementation of common guidelines for treatment of fishermen between Indonesia and Malaysia in the still-disputed waters between the two countries – are seen as valuable references for ASEAN-China framework in the future.

An Nhien