However, the outbreak of epidemics, agricultural land disputes, and inadequate supplies of shrimp breeds sent many localities into a tailspin.
According to Deputy Minister of Fisheries Nguyen Viet Thang, dozens of millions of US dollars gained from aquaculture helped many localities intensify investments in this field, but there were no synchronized plans for farmers to run their businesses effectively. In addition, the US lawsuits against Vietnam for dumping Tra and Basa catfish and shrimp on its market in 2002 and 2003 adversely affected the sector.
Deputy Minister of Fisheries Nguyen Thi Hong Minh said the US was considered a key potential seafood export market for Vietnam but the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP) lacked basic knowledge about foreign legal systems and business laws. Therefore, while the US lawsuit was conducted, Vietnam did not seek an effective solution to export seafood to other markets, resulting in great losses for catfish and shrimp farmers in An Giang, Can Tho and Tien Giang which had prospered for many years.
"Although the world's fisheries sectors, particularly in neighboring countries such as Thailand, Bangladesh, India and China, are developing seafood exploration and production resulting in sharp competitiveness, global demand for seafood continues to increase," Ms Minh said.
According to the Ministry's seafood development strategy, Vietnam is expected to earn US$3.2-3.5 billion per annum by 2010 from aqua-products. However, Ms Minh noted, Vietnamese enterprises should change their way of doing business to realise the target.
In fact, it is a difficult task to realize the set target of earning US$2.6 billion from seafood exports in 2005.
"Challenges are still ahead for Vietnam's fisheries sector due to unsubstantial development and many implicit risks," Ms Minh said.
Aquaculture has not been developed evenly, she said. Many Vietnamese enterprises only focused on breeding shrimp and catfish domestically. They did not pay due attention to developing diverse species of fish in the sea. Therefore, domestic businesses could not produce large volumes of seafood exports steadily and effectively. According to General Director of CAFATEX Nguyen Van Kich, who is also VASEP Chairman, Vietnamese enterprises did not have efficient methods for raising and processing seafood as well as providing young shrimp at suitable prices for farmers.
To reach the set target of earning US$2.6 billion from seafood exports, Ms Minh said, it is essential to resolve all shortcomings of previous years, thus providing fresh impetus for further developing the fisheries sector along the line of large-scale breeding.
Vietnamese enterprises should also focus on production management, market development, advertising activities and trademark development, Ms Minh noted.
Source: eFeedLink - 2nd February 2005