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Mekong Delta Struggles Under Low Prices

MEKONG DELTA, VIET NAM Falling seafood prices are cutting into the profits of fishermen in the Mekong Delta, as only 10 per cent of them have received their fuel subsidies from the Government.

The Government offered the subsidy a few months ago to account for rising petrol prices.

Fishermen in Ca Mau Province’s U Minh and Tran Van Thoi Districts said prices of several kinds of fish had fallen by 50 per cent compared to last month.

Tuna prices have dropped from VND21,000 (US$1.27) to VND13,000 ($0.78) per kilo and fresh and dried cuttlefish by 10-15 per cent compared to two weeks ago. Other types of fish including mackerel and scad have dropped by 30-40 per cent in price.

Nam Trieu, a fisherman in Ca Mau, said that he had lost VND30 million (US$1,830) from his most recent fishing trip because of plummeting prices.

Many other fishermen, fearful of the fickle market and higher petrol prices, are postponing trips to sea.

In An Giang Province, several fishing vessels are lying idle on shore due to heavy financial losses.

In Kien Giang Province, some 1,172 fishing boat owners in Rach Gia town have received a total fuel subsidy of VND14.6 billion ($881,642).

Several localities in the province have only just recently filled out the necessary forms to receive the subsidy.

About 1,400 out of 3,400 fishing vessel owners in Ca Mau Province have received subsidies, totalling VND21 billion ($1.27 million).

Ca Mau Province’s Aquaculture Department said it had been working with local authorities to provide subsidies to all fishermen in the province by the end of the year.

Financial support for each fishing trip ranges from VND4 million to VND10 million, depending on the size of fishing boat’s engine.

Each vessel owner can receive a maximum of five payments a year.

To be eligible for the subsidy, fishermen must be permanent legal residents of Viet Nam, own and register their boats, buy insurance for crew members, and possess a fishing licence.

Ellen Hardy

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