Rising oil prices make fishing trips unaffordable for boat owners

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VIETNAM, March 7 – Fishing boats in Bình Thuận province. Many stopped going to sea after diesel prices hit record highs, making fishing unprofitable. — Photo binhthuan.gov.vn

HCM CITY – Rising fuel prices to record highs have forced many fishing boats in Bình Thuận and Quảng Ngãi provinces and the Mekong Delta to stop going out to sea, as the longer they sail, the more they suffer losses.

On March 1, the price of diesel reached an all-time high of 20,800 VNĐ (0.91 USD) per litre, 10% higher than at the end of last year and 70% higher than at the end of 2020.

Hoàng Văn Thành, owner of a fishing boat in Phan Thiết town of Bình Thuận, said that at current prices, the cost of a fishing trip would be 120 million VNĐ ($5,250), of which 110 million VNĐ just for fuel.

He would gain nothing and in fact probably make a loss, he said.

Trần Thanh, another boat owner in Bình Thuận, said that the journey requires 5,000 liters of oil and at 20,800 VNĐ instead of 19,800 VNĐ for one litre, he has to spend an additional 5 million VNĐ.

Not only the shipowners, but also the fishermen suffer from this.

Võ Tấn Minh, from Quảng Ngãi Province, said that since the Lunar New Year holiday in early February, he had only made one fishing trip because the owner of the boat did not want him and he was unable to support his family.

The situation is similar in the coastal provinces of the delta where fishing boats gain little or even lose.

With a coastline of 56 km and four major rivers flowing into the sea, Sóc Trăng has almost 400,000 km2 of fishing grounds and a large number of aquatic species.

It has over 1,200 boats that catch over 100,000 tons of seafood annually, with Đông Hải district accounting for half of the vessels.

Đặng Quốc Thùy, a boat owner in Gành Hào town of Đông Hải, said the cost of his last fishing trip was 60 million VNĐ ($2,600) more than before, 50 million VNĐ for fuel and the rest for food and testing her crew for COVID.

He didn’t gain anything, he said.

Combined with falling seafood prices, rising costs have caused many boat owners to stop fishing.

Trần Trịnh Xuân, another boat owner in Gành Hào, said fuel costs for a month-long trip on a high-capacity boat have increased from 40 to 70 million VNĐ ($1,760 to $3,100).

Nearly 70% of boats in Đông Hải district have stopped going to sea, according to its Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development. —VNS

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