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EU Welcomes Vietnamese Seafood

Marketing Food safety & handling

EU - Having previously raised concerns over standards in the Vietnamese fish farming sector, Struan Stevenson MEP, Senior Vice President of the European Parliaments Fisheries Committee, has now acknowledged that EU consumers and aquaculture businesses have little to fear from growing imports.

With imports of Viet Nam’s pangasius fish reaching 230,000 tonnes in 2010, Mr Stevenson had raised concerns over standards of hygiene, welfare, feed and fish health at many of the 1600 fish farms in the country’s Mekong Delta.

Mr Stevenson visited the region from the 13 to the 23 May after being invited by the Vietnamese Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). Following his visit, Mr Stevenson said that his own attitude to Vietnamese farmed fish imports has changed for the better. He also concluded that increasing demand for these fish presents a huge opportunity for European businesses ready to take part in an exciting growth market.

Returning from his trip to Viet Nam, Mr Stevenson commented: “Until recently, I was an arch critic of panga fish production, but having seen production methods first-hand and learned more about this highly regulated market, I am ready to admit that my previous comments were misplaced”.

“Only the biggest, most efficient pangasius farms in the Mekong Delta export to Europe. These facilities get inspected and approved by the European Commission, and are regularly audited by major supermarket buyers like ASDA, Tesco, and Carrefour, so that EU consumers have no need to worry about the quality of the food on their tables”.

“Far from finding a dirty, unhygienic and polluted business, I discovered a dynamic new industry, meeting world-class welfare and hygiene standards and producing a quality product under first-rate conditions. It also provides secure jobs, social security benefits and pension provisions for millions of desperately poor people in the Mekong Delta”.

Mr Stevenson also reassured EU seafood producers, who were worrying about being disadvantaged due to cheaper imports, by highlighting that Viet Nam were exporting a completely different sort of fish to what is being produced in the EU.

“The EU has benefited from the rapid expansion of fish farming in Viet Nam, by exporting expertise together with processing and farming equipment. Hopefully our businesses will continue to reap benefits from this exciting market in the future”, he concluded.