The viral disease, which was first detected in 2014, can cause cumulative mortalities of up to 80 percent and fears of its spread have been stepped up after an outbreak in the Chinese province of Guangdong in February.
The disease, which can affect staple species of shrimp aquaculture including vannamei shrimp and giant freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) has yet to be detected in Vietnam, according to the ministry. However, in order to improve biosecurity, an official letter from the ministry has suggested the National Steering Committee against Smuggling, Trade Fraud and Counterfeit Goods instruct its operatives in provinces bordering China to take measures against the illegal import, transport and sale of shrimp seeds, prawns and aquaculture feeds, according to a report in Tuoi Tre News.
The ministry added that those found to be breaking the rules would be subject to stiff penalties and that provincial authorities, police officers, border guards and market surveillance officials are expected to join the efforts against the spread of the shrimp disease.
Vietnam's shrimp exports rose by 1.8 percent year-on-year to reach US$628.6 million in Q1 – with China USA and Japan the largest markets – according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers.