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Offshore fishing goes online in Phu Yen

Update: September, 17/2012 - 10:02


Fishing vessels harvest anchovies in the central province of Phu Yen. The Government hopes to develop offshore fishing in the province where seafood is a key part of the economy. — VNA/VNS Photo Xuan Truong
HA NOI (VNS)— How to develop offshore fishing in central Phu Yen Province topped the agenda for discussion at an online dialogue on the Government Web Portal yesterday.

Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Aqua Exploiting and Protection Department Nguyen Ngoc Oai, Vice Chairman of Phu Yen People's Committee Nguyen Ngoc An and Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Tri Phuong participated in the dialogue.

Experts agreed that sea resources were very important industry for the province, which had a coastline of about 190km with many deep-water bays with great potential for expansion of lobster farming.

Last year, the province had its peak crop of 29,000 cages of lobsters with an annual output of more than 500 tonnes. By this August, 35,000 cages of lobsters have been set up with an estimated output of over 950 tonnes per year.

However, in recent years, many fishermen rushed to raise lobsters in cages that suffered from outbreaks of disease due to the high density of lobsters. This resulted in big losses for local farmers, as many cages were set up in the same areas.

The same situation occurred a few years ago when people flocked into investing in lobsters after two years of bumper crops.

In addition, the raising of lobsters raised another problem for onshore aquaculture farmers, who also supplied the main feed for lobster farms. Development of lobster farming therefore threatened the exhaustion of aquaculture resources.

So far, onshore aquaculture farms have been the only food source for lobster farmers as Viet Nam have yet to produced lobster feed on an industrial scale.

"There were shortcomings in the master plan on sustainable farming development," said Vice Chairman of Phu Yen People's Committee Nguyen Ngoc An. "A specific plan on dividing zones for raising lobsters to better ensure against outbreaks of epidemics was also needed."

According to the experts, providing out-of-work fishermen with new jobs was among the key strategies in the coming time and the province needed to focus on developing industrial zones, tourism and services to create these jobs.

Currently, there are three economic zones in the province that bring job opportunities to tens of thousands of labourers. The province has approved the VND370 billion (US$17.7 million) project on providing vocational training to 30,000 labourers in the 2010-15 period and strengthened dissemination on vocational training and jobs for young people.

Deputy director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Tri Phuong said that after a survey of fishing communities who either wished to switch jobs or continue earning a livelihood from the sea, the department developed three models.

Firstly, fishermen could move from fishing to farming or exploit offshore instead of onshore resources. They would need capital to buy offshore fishing vessels and the authority should ensure a system to help offshore fishermen cope with any financial problems.

Most of fishermen can not afford offshore vessels while a bank fund offering loans at a favourable interest rate of 6.5 per cent remained inadequate. Currently, the average interest rate of loan is about 15 per cent.

Secondly, those who volunteered to switch jobs should be given land for production and business. However, shortages and restrictions in the land fund made it difficult to implement.

Finally, a non-agriculture model would provide vocational training for former fishermen to work at economic and industrial zones.

In terms of build-up of sedimentation at some major ports such as Tam Quan Port in central Binh Dinh Province, Ward 6 Port in central Phu Yen Province and Hon Ro Port in central Khanh Hoa Province, Oai said the ministry had mobilised a research group to these provinces to study the situation, while the Institute of Scientific Research Irrigation was also tasked to solve the situation.

Phu Yen is a south-central coastal province with exploitation of seafood as its key economy activity. The value of seafood products accounted for 30 per cent of the total value of the province's agriculture, forestry and fisheries. — VNS

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