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Fishing for improvements   2008-05-23 - ThanhNienNews

Workers clean fish at a seafood processing factory in the Mekong Delta  
A local firm is preparing to set up a fishery research institute to upgrade aquaculture techniques and buttress the domestic seafood industry.



The Binh An Seafood Joint Stock Company (Bianfishco) is currently outlining plans to establish a fishery research institute in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, which would be the first privately-run establishment of its kind in Vietnam.

The Bianfishco Pangasius Research Institute, expected to cover 2,000 square meters in Tra Noc Industrial Park II, will conduct research on breeders, feed and technology to improve aquaculture farming techniques and support the seafood processing industry in the Mekong Delta.

When launched, the institute is expected to facilitate the application of biological research in the cultivation of tra catfish in the Delta region, as well as enhance feed quality to ensure safe product hygiene for consumers.

The institute will also jointly cooperate with other institutes and universities in the region to study and apply new research on raising pangasius (tra and basa catfish).

Bianfishco’s Board Chairwoman and General Director Pham Thi Dieu Hien said the company is currently seeking qualified staff for the institute drawn from specialists, academic experts and engineers in the aquaculture field.

Hien told Thanh Nien research carried out by Bianfishco Pangasius Research Institute would be applied to help pangasius suppliers better manage potential diseases that may affect bred species.

The institute’s work aims to influence governmental policies in developing the domestic fishery sector, according to Hien.

Quality enhancement

Next month, Bianfishco will expand its fish-rearing area at the Binh An Aquaculture Center from 40 to 100 hectares, which will supply half of the company’s pangasius stock needs.

The establishment of the research institute and expansion of stock supply will help the company take charge of production capacity as well as set up an environmentally friendly aquaculture center, Hien said.

To ensure pangasius supplies meet strict quality and hygiene standards, the center will manage and monitor all stages of production from selecting breeders to treating water and cultivating fish.

Hien also emphasized that the use of chemicals and feed with any additives will be prohibited at the center.

Bianfishco is currently supplying products for 82 clients around the world with a focus on promoting sales at retail networks of large supermarkets.

Talking with Thanh Nien, Professor Vo Tong Xuan said the difficult problem facing Vietnamese farming and seafood produce exports is how to ensure quality that meets international standards and provide a stable stream of high-quality goods.

Thus, a model like Bianfishco’s holistic project, which combines quality-enhancing research, leveraging natural breeding and rearing techniques, and supplying produce meeting foreign requirements, should be encouraged and multiplied, Xuan added.

Increasing demand

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) also seeks close cooperation between domestic seafood processing factories to increase produce supplies, ensure food quality, safety and environment hygiene, and exchange market information.

VASEP said demand for Vietnamese pangasius from customers in Europe and Central America has doubled and quadrupled respectively year-on-year due to a significant decrease in Chinese tilapia, cod and white-meat fish harvests.

Vietnam seafood’s share in the European market, moreover, is growing.

In 2007, seafood export from Vietnam to Europe was valued at US$950 million, up 27 percent year-on-year, with 2008 figures expected to reach $1.2 billion.

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