|Tra fish is processed in the southern Dong Thap Province. Viet Nam's exports of tra fish is not expected to exceed US$1.75 billion this year due to a decline in the number of aquaculture ponds and output. — VNA/VNS Photo
CAN THO (VNS)— Viet Nam's exports of tra fish (pangasius) is expected to not exceed US$1.75 billion this year because of a decline in the number of aquaculture ponds and output, heard a conference held by the Viet Nam Pangasius Association in Can Tho City this week.
Last year, the country had 5,556 ha under tra fish breeding, only 93 per cent compared with 2012, according to figures released by the Fisheries General Department (under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development). Total tra fish production last year was only 88 per cent of 2012.
However, exports of tra fish to the US fell while exports to the EU increased in the past few months, making the EU the biggest market for Viet Nam's tra fish, while the US ranked second, according to figures from the Viet Nam Customs Bureau.
The Mekong provinces accounted for 87 per cent of the areas under tra fish breeding in the country.
The conference, chaired by Vu Van Tam, the deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, also introduced a new decree to local seafood enterprises in the region.
From June 30 this year, seafood enterprises will have to obtain confirmation of signed contracts from the Viet Nam Pangasius Association for their tra fish exports as regulated in a new government decree.
The Decree 36/2014/ND-CP says tra fish exporters will have to seek approval from the association for deals they have signed with their customers before they are allowed to deliver the fish.
The association will check to see if enterprises have met all the requirements provided in the decree, and customs officers will depend on confirmation by Viet Nam Pangasius Association to complete clearance procedures for the exporters.
The decree clarifies that exporters must have fish farms located in the zoned areas approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and meet the criteria for fish processing and exporting.
It also requires trade agreements between processing enterprises and the households and cooperatives that supply the fish.
If the processors and fish farmers do not have any trade agreement, Viet Nam Pangasius will decide the export price of fish and arrange agreements for the two sides to avoid a situation in which exporters sell tra filets at much higher prices than they offer to farmers.
The decree also requires that, from December 31, 2015, owners of tra fish farms will have to meet Vietnamese Good Agriculture Practices (VietGAP) or global standards such as GlobalGAP and ASC.
Norway, Sweden, Germany and Belgium have set requirements for Vietnamese tra fish in line with standards set by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), which was established by the WWF and the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative in 2009.
Meanwhile, GlobalGAP standards are usually applied to products exported to North America.
The new decree also regulates an ice topping rate of lower than 10 per cent for every kilo of tra fish filets. It also requires that local exporters meet the standards of importing countries. — VNS