|Fishermen bring tuna ashore in Binh Dinh Provinvce. A pilot programme in three central provinces to use Japanese equipment and technologies for fishing tuna for export to Japan has come a cropper, with fishermen and authorities blaming each other. — VNA/VNS Photo Ly Kha
HCM City (VNS)— A pilot programme in three central provinces to use Japanese equipment and technologies for fishing tuna for export to Japan has to be stopped temporarily, with fishermen and authorities blaming each other.
The quality of the fish has been inexplicably low, causing the fishermen taking part in the programme to lose heavily.
Tuna exports have dropped sharply to just US$410 million as of the end of October.
On their first trip to sea with the new equipment and technologies in July Binh Dinh fishermen caught 54 tuna but only 10 were good enough to export to Japan at VND250,000 ($12) per kilogramme. The next time around this fell to a mere four out of 57.
Many of the fishermen believe that the reason for the low quality is that they have not been taught properly.
Now the department wants to temporarily stop the pilot project after just three months.
"The number of good quality tuna to export to Japan was very limited and fishermen suffered big losses," Nguyen Huu Hao, its deputy director, told Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times) newspaper in explanation.
"The worst thing is that fishermen don't trust it any more."
But he blamed them for continuing to fish using traditional methods despite the new technology and equipment.
"The province provided financial support to fishermen to buy the equipment at VND1.3 billion ($600,000) each and trained them carefully in how to preserve tuna after catching them, but they failed to do so."
During the three-month trial, four boats each lost VND500 million ($24,000).
Trips to sea would traditionally last 20 days, but to ensure the tuna remained in good condition, they were shortened by half.
"We caught very small number of tuna and could not export them all," one ship owner said.
"With the new technology, our expenditure doubled but prices were only 20 per cent higher."
But Binh Dinh authorities and the Fishery General Department have insisted that the new tuna fishing technology is vital for the industry and the project should continue.
The province plans to build a factory to process tuna based on Japanese technology.
"We have already worked with the Japanese Hokugan company to build a five-hectare factory in Phu Cat or Hoai Nhon district," Le Huu Loc, chairman of the Binh Dinh People's Committee said.
The ministry, which began the pilot project to exploit, purchase, and process high-quality tuna in Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa, hopes to double exports to $1 billion by 2020. — VNS