Bui Duc Quy, director of the Department of Aquaculture, told Viet Nam News about achievements gained by the sector during the last 56 years.
After 56 years of development and growth, fisheries are the biggest contributor to the State budget. In your opinion, what are the main factors contributing to the sector's successes?
April 1 has been observed as a traditional day for the Vietnamese Fishery sector. This followed a visit to Cat Ba village, Cat Hai District in Hai Phong City by late President Ho Chi Minh on April 1, 1959.
After 56 years, the sector has achieved many notable successes. In 2014, Viet Nam's tra fish and shrimp have been exported to more than 160 countries and territories with a total export turnover of almost US$8 billion a year – an increase of 50 times against that of 1990. The sector also provides jobs for about three million people.
In 2010, the aquaculture zone was 640,000 ha with an output of 590,000 tonnes. By 2014, this had increased to 1,220 ha with an output of almost 5.9 million tonnes.
The big jump has been credited to the clear leadership of the Party and Government and the international integration of the economy, which has presented golden opportunities for the fishery sector to increase exports, particularly tra fish, shrimps, oysters and African carps.
What are the most challenging tasks faced by the sector?
Quality control and food safety are the two most important tasks in 2015. One of the targets for this year is to produce aqua products of high economic value. We have laid down specific activities to ensure the target is achievable, including good quarantine control of fish breeds and fishmeal. In addition, we'll also step up environmental monitoring activities and recommend farmers follow technical procedures in fish farming.
Regarding disease control, the Government will give instructions and support farmers creating big fish farms, particularly the development of private-public partnerships. This is a good way to ensure sustainable development for the sector and to reduce risks and diseases.
This year, a target of $8 billion has been set for export turnover. What are the measures the sector will introduce to achieve the target?
To achieve this target, we consider having proper policies on aqua-culture management and control is the decisive factor to achieve the target. Of course, we also need the Government's support in trade promotion, particularly regional market expansion.
This is a year of food safety and quality in Viet Nam. We have already achieved high yield and productivity. Now we should focus more on improving our product quality and meeting the high standards of foreign consumers.
In the meantime, we will continue to recommend fish farmers apply VietGap, GlobalGap and other advanced techniques to meet the tough requirements for European, Japan and US markets.
In addition to exporting aqua products, I think we should have a long term plan to export seaweed and mollusc.
Regarding seaweed, with our immense sea territory, we can produce up to 10 million tonnes of seaweed a year. No doubt, proper investment in harvesting seaweed and molluscs could help promote the industry. — VNS