KIÊN GIANG — An island commune in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Kiên Giang is expanding marine aquaculture in combination with tourism and other services to further the incomes of local farmers.
Hòn Nghệ commune in the province's Kiên Lương District aims to have 1,000ha of marine aquaculture next year.
Located about 15 kilometres off the mainland, the island commune has 619 households that live mostly on fishing and marine aquaculture.
In 2010, households began to use floating cages to breed fish fry caught in the area's clean sea waters, and one year later, as many as 53 households were breeding marine fish in 150 floating cages.
Today, 189 households breed marine fish in a total of 1,089 floating cages, according to the commune's People’s Committee. Most of the farmed marine fish are grouper and cobia.
Huỳnh Văn Chiều, who breeds grouper in 44 floating cages in Bãi Nam Hamlet, earns a profit of more than VNĐ8 billion (US$345,500) from each harvest.
Groupers, which are normally harvested after slightly more than one year of breeding, are mostly exported to Hong Kong.
Traders from other provinces regularly come to the commune to buy farmed marine fish.
Average annual incomes have grown from VNĐ29.5 million ($1,270) in 2015 to VNĐ42.6 million ($1,840) last year.
However, the area faces small-scale farming and a lack of sophisticated farming techniques. Only 50 households are engaged in large-scale breeding and have stable outlets.
“We need more capital and better farming techniques,” Chiều said, adding that more support would help farmers switch from fishing to aquaculture.
Nguyễn Hữu Thành, secretary of the commune Party Committee and chairman of its People’s Committee, said the commune regularly organised training courses on aquaculture techniques for local farmers, including how to build floating cages.
The commune has also asked credit organisations to provide loans to households that breed marine fish, while the People’s Committee has urged companies to guarantee outlets for products of aquaculture cooperatives.
Two environmental monitoring systems that inspect the quality of sea water in marine aquaculture areas have also been set up. Some of the floating cages have been rearranged. VNS