HCM CITY (VNS)— Management of the aquaculture industry must be improved so that seafood processors and exporters can overcome current financial difficulties, industry officials said at a conference held on Thursday in HCM City.
The National Agro-Forestry Fisheries Quality Assurance (Nafiqad) organised the conference to collect opinions on the recently issued draft circular 55/2011/TT-BNNPTNT, which includes proposed regulations on checking the quality of seafood exports.
Seafood processors and exporters said that the improper practices of aquaculture breeders and farmers had led to financial losses and rejection by international buyers of seafood.
A representative from a seafood export company, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Viet Nam News that rejected seafood products were mostly because of antibiotics used by aquaculture farmers.
"The reality shows that few of the cases are caused by bacteria, which we can control when exporting," the company representative said.
Processors and exporters were the ones who must suffer the consequences, she said.
Besides farmers' improper practices, poor management of the aquaculture industry has also contributed to the current situation.
"This situation has been mentioned for years, but has not been solved," another company representative said.
Processors and exporters have asked the Nafiqad to add new regulations in the circular that would punish farmers and breeders who violate industry rules.
Another problem plaguing the industry is the high fee required for seafood quality examinations.
The processors and exporters attending the conference said the fees were too high.
The export-company representative who asked to remain anonymous said the circular appeared to contain positive changes, but upon closer inspection, called for fees that were too high.
With this draft, exporters and producers "were being pushed to the wall with no exit", the export-company representative said.
Speaking at the meeting, Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, urged Nafiqad to work with local authorities to improve control and management of aquaculture activities in the region.
She said that aquaculture farmers should join co-operatives so they could be taught correct methods and meet safety and technical standards.
Processors and exporters said the Nafiqad should listen to companies and find ways to reduce the seafood-quality examination fee.
Seafood exporters have been experiencing more difficulties this year because import markets had fewer orders.
According to national customs' office figures, in the first four months of the year, export turnover was US$1.7 billion, a year-on-year drop of 3.5 per cent . — VNS