In 2013, Viet Nam totaled 3,500 off-shore fishing boats for ocean tuna (accounting for 14 per cent of nationwide distant fishing boats) with over 35,000 fishermen. Apart from traditional longline fishing, line fishing with lights is also popular and provides huge supply of raw fish. In 2013, catches of yellowfin and bigeye tuna reached 16,000 MT. Exports valued at US$526 million. The US, the EU and Japan are the main markets for Viet Nam ocean tuna products, reports VASEP.
Tuna is the third export item of Viet Nam after shrimp and pangasius. However, this fish industry is facing some problems: individual fishing activities among local fishermen, backward logistic services, limited bank credits for this sector, lack of close links among stakeholders in the production chain, especially the post harvest steps.
These weaknesses cause low quality of tuna products. Due to post harvest losses, there are only five to six per cent of line-caught tuna and 30 – 40 per cent of longline-caught tuna meeting quality requirements to be processed as sashimi products to export by airway.
Moreover, tuna producers just focus on fish yield and profits they earn rather than pay attention to markets' demand to provide more value-added products.
To keep stable developing of the sector, fish quality is required to improve. Fishermen need to create more fishing groups and efficient methods of purchasing, transportation and logistic services at sea in order to reduce time waste in the post harvest step.
According to a representative from the Japanese company Yanmar, raw fish quality is the fundamental factor to raise the price of product. Fish with good quality will have higher price and meet requirements of Japanese importers and others. Therefore, tuna producers should pay attention to immediate freezing step on board and at landing ports and better preservation storage using hygienic ice to ensure the fish quality.