HA NOI (VNS) — An unusually strong performance in the first two months and Japan's easing of its seafood import restrictions has raised expectations that Viet Nam's fisheries industry will meet its annual export target with relative ease.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, seafood exports in January and February increased 23.5 per cent year-on-year to reach US$919 million, including $335 million in February.
This has been a welcome surprise for the industry because seafood exports are usually slow in the first few months of the year, especially after the Tet holiday, the ministry said.
Exports to the US, still the largest market for Vietnamese seafood, increased 89 per cent year-on-year, accounting for 26.67 per cent of the total fisheries export value.
The value of seafood exports to Japan increased by 17.85 per cent, to South Korea by 29.27 per cent and to Australia by 31.45 per cent, while it fell by 37.8 per cent to China and by 7 per cent to Thailand.
The Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) Association said it expects the good start at the beginning of the year to help the industry achieve its annual exports target of between $6.8 and 6.9 billion –$3 billion from shrimp, $1.6 billion from tra fish and $2.2 billion from other seafood products.
The ministry said shrimp would continue to be a major export item this year because Japan, a major market, has eased its strict standards for Vietnamese seafood imports.
Tra fish exports are also expected to improve over last year because some traditional buyers will reopen their markets, VASEP officials said.
For instance, Ukraine, a traditional buyer, has given licences to 10 Vietnamese seafood processors to export their tra fish products.
The agriculture ministry has said that as a key export item for the nation, it would pay even more attention this year to improving product quality as well as food hygiene and safety.
They would also work on building a trademark for Vietnamese seafood, that would enable local firms to expand their export markets, ministry officials said.
Tra fish farms get ASC certification
Three farms breeding tra fish for export in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long have become the first in the country to receive certificates from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), opening doors to more markets.
Covering a total area of 36.7 hectares, the farms are run by the Co Chien, Nam Vang and Nam Song Hau seafood companies in Vung Liem and Tra On districts.
They have been supported by a Government programme to build safe tra fish farms that meeting the Global GAP (Good Agriculture Practices)and ASC standards.
Founded in 2010 by the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Netherlands' Sustainable Trade Initiative, the ASC is an international organisation that works with seafood producers, processors, retail and food service companies, scientists, conservation groups and the public to promote the best socially and environmentally-friendly seafood choices.
Its certification programme recognises and rewards responsible aquaculture.
ASC certified enterprises will be assisted to transform their production practices and apply advanced technology in fish farming, thus minimising the use of chemicals in production.
More importantly, the enterprises will be put under the supervision of the surrounding community, raising their responsibility towards their workers and society as a whole.
Currently, Vinh Long has 239 fish farms that are operated by 58 firms and 192 households. — VNS