Vietnam’s fisheries are largely small-scale and about 85% of fishing vessels in the country operate in near-shore areas, with approximately 82% of the total catch caught at a depth of less than 50m. These areas serve as the source of food for approximately 88% of the total capture fisheries labour force in Vietnam. They are, however, significantly overfished, primarily due to overcapacity of the fishing fleet. In simple terms, there are “too many fishers chasing too few fish”.
As a result, earnings from fishing activities are decreasing, and often are not enough to cover fishing costs, threatening food security, poverty rates, livelihoods and social stability. With eight million people whose livelihoods depend on these fisheries as the household’s primary income source, an additional 12 million who get part of their income or subsistence from fisheries, and with few alternative sources of employment in many coastal communities, addressing the overexploitation of fisheries resources in Vietnam presents a formidable challenge. Despite the urgency, this challenge has attracted little philanthropic investment.