Overfishing affects seafood exports

Published: 19/06/2011 05:00

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Seafood processors are facing a severe shortage of raw materials and have called on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to make concrete plans to resolve this.

Seafood processors are facing a severe shortage of raw materials and have called on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to make concrete plans to resolve this.

Speaking at a seminar held in HCM City on Tuesday, Nguyen Thi Thu Sac, head of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP)’s Seafood Committee, said that fish stocks were dwindling due to excessive fishing.

Climate change had also affected seafood output, she said, while many fishermen had stopped going out to sea because of high fuel costs.

To make matters worse, Chinese businesses had come to Viet Nam and begun competing with local companies to buy fish and other seafood.

As many as 147 processors had stopped exporting seafood since they were unable to source enough raw material, she said.

Pham Xuan Nam, chairman of the Khanh Hoa Province-based Tashun Corporation, agreed saying that a raw material shortage seriously threatened the sector’s development.

Many delegates demanded measures to stop Chinese firms from buying up raw materials and to conserve marine resources by reducing the number of near-shore fishing vessels.

Sac said the Government should also have policies to support fishermen so that they could continue to fish offshore.

Profitable shrimp

Viet Nam’s shrimp exports are forecast to reach US$1.8-1.9 billion in value this year, with white-leg shrimp fuelling most of the growth.

“Although black-tiger shrimp remains the current key export item for the seafood sector, the position of white-leg shrimp in the seafood industry is strong and its future is quite bright,” said Truong Dinh Hoe, VASEP general secretary.

He said that white-leg shrimp export volume this year would account for approximately 50 per cent of the country’s total shrimp exports. The variety has been farmed widely in the last two years.

Shrimp exports are still at their highest proportion of the total seafood export value of the country, with 35.5 per cent.

Last year, Viet Nam’s shrimp exports reached 240,985 tonnes worth US$2.106 billion, an increase of 13.4 per cent in volume and 24.1 per cent in value.

Black-tiger shrimp exports equalled 141,850 tonnes, worth $1.44 billion, and white-leg shrimp amounted to 62,429 tonnes worth $667,563.

In the first four months of this year, shrimp exports reached 61,338 tonnes worth $573,552.

White-leg shrimp exports saw an increase of 40.9 per cent in volume, while black-tiger shrimp export volume increased by 15.8 per cent.

The country has a total of 274 shrimp exporters and their products are present in 73 countries, with the five key export markets being the US, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Germany.

Dao Van Tri, head of the Research Institute for Aquaculture III, said in Viet Nam, white-leg shrimp, originating from South America, was test-farmed in 2001.

The white-leg shrimp farming area throughout the country reached 1,700ha with a production of 10,000 tonnes in 2002, accounting for nearly 5 per cent of total shrimp output.

Domestic boost

Last year, the domestic farming area increased to over 25,000 ha, mainly in central and northern provinces, with an output of 150,000 tonnes, accounting for 30 per cent of the total shrimp output.

More people are raising white-leg shrimp because it has a shorter farming period and low production costs, thus bringing more profit more quickly. It is also in high demand worldwide.

A white-leg shrimp crop lasts 90 – 110 days, so there may be 3 – 4 crops per year. Farmers can earn 100-150 million per ha.

At conference, many part-icipants said the major obstacles included the quality of baby shrimp and potential outbreaks of disease. The latter had caused a massive death of white-leg shrimp in particular and shrimp in general.

The cause of the outbreak of disease has not been identified.

Hoe of VASEP said in the four first months, 5,525ha of black-tiger shrimp and 814ha of white-leg shrimp were damaged due to disease.

A lack of raw material shrimp is forecast to occur this year and continue over the next few years, he noted.

Tri of the aquaculture research institute said there was a need to control the quality of breeder shrimp being imported to the provinces, as shrimp are imported through different channels, including illegal imports.

Planning for white-leg shrimp farming must be done and investment made in common irrigation systems. In addition, food safety and hygiene must be ensured in ponds.

Le Van Quang, general director of Minh Phu Seafood Joint Stock Co in Ca Mau Province, sugges-ted agencies strengthen in-vestment in infrastructure rapidly transfer technical advances to improve productivity.

Nguyen Van Kich, general director of Cafatex Seafood Joint Stock Co, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should consider allowing imports of breeder shrimp to ensure that the export market is maintained and that jobs for labourers are created.

Kich said the Gov-ernment should consider applying zero per cent VAT for feed and medicine required to breed shrimp.

Vo Quang Huy, vice chairman of My Thanh Shrimp Association, said VASEP should organise meetings for exporters and producers to share experiences about technical trade barriers and knowledge about shrimp breeding to increase the quality of exports.

Source: VNS

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