HCM CITY (VNS)— The tra catfish (pagasius) industry will achieve its target of 10 per cent of output meeting Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standards by the end of this year, a conference heard in HCM City yesterday.
|Farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of An Giang harvest tra fish. Six domestic tra fish companies have recieved ASC certificates for sustainable development. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
Six pangasius processing firms including Vinh Hoan Corp, Hung Vuong Corp and Hoang Long Seafood Processing Co Ltd have received ASC certificates for sustainable development, Nguyen Huu Dung, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said.
"ASC certification recognises and rewards farms that are following responsible practices," Chris Ninnes, head of the ASC, said.
"This includes conservation of water resources, no misuse of antibiotics, responsible use of feed, and behaving in a socially responsible manner."
With the certification, Vietnamese pangasius products could enter new markets and protect existing ones since importers and consumers have now paid more attention to quality and social responsibility, he said.
Duong Ngoc Minh, general director of Hung Vuong, said some EU markets, especially Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, attached great importance to the ASC label.
"Supermarkets there want to buy Vietnamese pangasius with the ASC logo, but we are unable to supply.
"ASC-certified pangasius products are priced 20-30 per cent higher than normal products."
Klaas Jan Mazereeuw, Quality Assurance Manager of Seafood Connection, a leading European seafood importer, said: "Western and Northern European consumers tend to be critical: What am I eating? Where is it coming from?
"The ASC label is important to secure and visualise responsible production, restore the image of farmed fish."
Consumers are willing to pay more for ASC-certified products, he added.
Ninnes said audits of more farms have been done and more are scheduled in the near future to enable their certification.
The World Wide Fund for Nature, VASEP, and the Viet Nam Fisheries Society signed a long-term co-operation agreement in 2010 to help the pangasius industry get ASC certification.
Under the agreement, Viet Nam would strive to have 100 per cent of farmed pangasius production for export certified, half of it by ASC, Dung said.
"ASC certification is a necessary condition for the industry to improve its competitiveness on the global market as well as to meet foreign importers' requirements," he said.
Most pangasius farms are located in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, mainly in An Giang, Dong Thap, and Can Tho. The sector is a major provider of employment in these provinces.
More than 90 per cent of world exports of pangasius is sourced from Viet Nam, which exports 650,000 tonnes of catfish annually. — VNS