Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at bay

Thousands of fishing boats lie ashore in central Vietnam as fishermen struggle to pay high gasoline prices during the peak fishing season.


About 550 fishing boats from different central provinces came to anchor at Tho Quang Lock in Son Tra District of Da Nang in the past few weeks.

Their owners said fuel prices had risen too much and taking offshore fishing trips these days would cause them losses.

Since the start of the year, retail gasoline prices in Canada have undergone 17 adjustments, including 13 increases and four decreases. Currently, each liter of E5 RON 92 gasoline costs 30,890 VND ($1.32), RON 95-III 32,760 VND, an increase of 37% and 40% respectively compared to the end of last year. The price of diesel is 29,610 VND per liter, an increase of more than 12,000 VND.

Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at bay

The Tho Quang wharf board said the price of seafood exports remained the same, putting fishermen in a difficult situation.

Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at baySitting next to his son, Tran Sang, 54, a fisherman from Thua Thien Hue Province that borders Da Nang, says he has stayed ashore for over a month now. So far, he has earned a living by taking various manual jobs in the area.

Sang said he could not take his son, a fourth grader, out as he has "no money."

"It's hard to make a living these days," Sang said, adding that now his plan is to wait for fuel prices to drop or support from the government.

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Sitting next to his son, Tran Sang, 54, a fisherman from Thua Thien Hue province which borders Da Nang, says he has been ashore for more than a month now. Until now, he earned his living by doing various manual jobs in the region.

Sang said he couldn’t take his son, a fourth-grade student, out because he had “no money”.

“It’s hard to make a living these days,” Sang said, adding that his plan now was to wait for fuel prices to come down or the government to support.

Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at bayFisher Thai Dinh Quy cleans up his boat after it was burned.

Quy says he has made just four trips so far this year and has stayed put for three weeks due to high gasoline prices.

On the afternoon of June 30, a fishing boat docked next to his boat caught fire due to a technical accident, and the blaze spread to his boat, burning out the cabin, the navigation device, and the entire fishing net he had just bought. In all, the fire caused him damage of VND500 million.

"If the fuel hadn't gone up, I would have been fishing offshore and the boat would not have caught fire," he says.

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Fisherman Thai Dinh Quy cleans his boat after it was set on fire.

Quy says he’s only made four trips so far this year and stayed there for three weeks due to high gas prices.

On the afternoon of June 30, a fishing boat moored next to his boat caught fire following a technical accident, and the fire spread to his boat, burning the cabin, the navigation device, and everything the fishing net he just bought. In total, the fire caused him damage of 500 million VND.

“If the fuel hadn’t gone up, I would have fished offshore and the boat wouldn’t have caught fire,” he says.

Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at bay

In Quang Nam Province, more than 100 fishing boats are now docked at An Hoa Lock in Nui Thanh District.

Quang Nam’s fisheries department said the province has more than 3,000 fishing boats and it has yet to identify the number of vessels kept at bay due to high fuel prices.

Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at bay

Fishing boats are covered with canvas.

Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at bay

Fisherman Vo Quang Phuc, 43, sprays water to cool his boat.

“The boat needs to be soaked in water frequently to prevent the wood from shrinking. Since he lay down like that, I have to spray water twice a day.

Phuc added that the boat consumes more than 1,200 liters of oil per trip and so far this year it has made only two trips while the price of oil remains below VND 25,000 per litre.

Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at bay

Nguyen Van Phung, 40, repairs his boat, which has been idle for more than a month.

“There has never been a year when so many boats have been sitting idle at the same time,” Phung said, adding that oil prices remain at an “unprecedented” high.

Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at bay

In Quang Binh province, there are more than 1,200 fishing boats, including more than 350 on land.

Le Ngoc Linh, head of the province’s fisheries department, said the number of boats kept at bay will soon increase as fuel prices rise, but seafood prices will remain the same.

Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at bay

Nguyen Van Dung said it cost him between 120 and 130 million VND ($5,100 to $5,570) for a sea voyage, including the cost of oil and food, but now the expenses have risen to 220 to 330 million VND.

Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at bay

“Each of my sea trips now costs 30% more than before, or 130 to 140 million VND,” says Hoang Van Minh, 34.

In many cases, fishermen cannot break even, he said.

Rising fuel prices keep fishing boats at bay

Nguyen Van Thuan (L), 45, is among those who still manage to set sail.

To cut costs, he brings his son into the crew without being paid and hires just one more sailor, agreeing to work harder but earn less.

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