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Seafood exports: Vietnam may lose traditional markets

VIET NAM - Seafood exports to Japan, which consumes 40% of Vietnams total exports every year, have been decreasing dramatically this year, and now stand at 29%.

Analysts said that the dramatic drop of seafood exports to Japan should be seen as a worrying sign. In the past two months, seafood exports to Japan have been routinely found as containing prohibited substances, and that is the problem. As a result, Japanese authorities have decided to impose an examination scheme on imports from Vietnam.

Complained
Nguyen Pham Minh, Director General of the Minh Sang Seafood Processing and Export Company, complained that the examination of 100% of exports to Japan had led to higher production costs. Meanwhile, many consignments of exports get stuck at ports as it takes time for the examinations. In general, exporters have to spend $1,000 for every examination; moreover, they also have to spend money for examinations in Vietnam before shipping.

Vietnam-sourced tra and basa fish are also finding it difficult to swim to the EU market, especially to Russia. According to Truong Dinh Hoe, Deputy Secretary General of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), troubles have occurred continuously so far this year with Russia, the market that imports $100mil worth of tra and basa every year from Vietnam.

Several consignments of seafood sent to Russia were discovered as being infected with prohibited antibiotics. Subsequently, Russian authorities imposed stricter policies on inspecting imports from Vietnam, which has installed barriers for Vietnam-sourced products.

Quality problem
What have State management authorities done to deal with the quality problem? The National Fisheries Quality and Veterinary Directorate (Nafiqaved) has sent documents to the General Department of Customs instructing them to strike the enterprises that have sent unsafe exports to Japan from the list of companies exempted from quality inspections before export.

In the next step, Nafiqaved promulgated regulations on shrimp quality control, which said that shrimp exporters must get certificates stating that their products were free of Chloramphenicol, AOZ, SEM from Nafiqaved to be eligible to export shrimp products.

However, the moves taken by VASEP and Nafiqaved have not satisfied enterprises, which say that the moves cannot help prevent unsafe seafood exports. They said that actions should be taken to prevent the industry from using prohibited antibiotics and substances during aquaculture and processing. Currently, fish farmers, processors and State management units are blaming each other for the problems with seafood hygiene.

Prohibited products
On April 10, Japan discovered six consignments of dried shrimp, salted shredded meat and seafood spring rolls as containing the prohibited Semicarbazide (SEM).

On May 8, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan announced that the shrimp imports from Viet Phu Foods and Fish Co., Ltd; Agrex Saigon; CaMau Seafood Processing and Service Jointstock Corporation; Amanda Foods VietNam Ltd; Binh Them Co., Ltd; Khanh Hoa Seafish Co., Ltd were found as containing chloramphenicol, AOZ and Semicarbazide.

On May 15, the exports of four more Vietnamese companies were discovered as containing prohibited antibiotics: the workshop on dried product processing under the Nha Trang Seafood Processing Company, HCM City-based Vietnam Northern Viking Technologies, Dong Nai-based AMADA, and the My An workshop on dried product processing under the Da Nang-based Phuoc Tien General Trading Company.

the Fish Site Editor

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