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Seafood sector lacks quality breeds   2009-12-29 - SGT

Despite being a large export industry with annual turnover of over US$4 billion, Vietnam’s seafood sector cannot ensure quality breeds to maintain sustainable production and boost competition on the world market.

Vinh Long Province needs around 1.3 billion tra and basa fish breeds per year but local farms provide only 62%.

Ninh Thuan Province has around 1,400 breed production farms that can turn out 12-15 billion breeds per year. However, only 40% of the farms can meet quality standards of seafood processors, said Nguyen Khac Lan, head of the provincial Aquaculture Bureau.

The remaining 60% are small, private farms that do not follow any technical processes, Lan told a seminar on sustainable development of the seafood industry in HCMC on Friday.

Vinh Long Province needs around 1.3 billion tra and basa fish breeds per year but local farms provide only 62%. Many enterprises have to buy breeds on the market without origin and quality guarantees, said Nguyen Thi Thu Hong, deputy head of the provincial Aquaculture Bureau.

Meanwhile, nearly 95% of seafood breeds in Long An Province have been bought outside the locality. As a result, local enterprises cannot check the quality of the input materials.

Delegates at the seminar were concerned that Vietnam had yet to release national quality standards for tra, basa, tiger or white-legged shrimp to help relevant authorities check the products. “Despite being a large tra and basa fish exporter in the world, Vietnam only has industry criteria for breeds production, not national-level or technical ones. That is why seafood breeds quality has come down quickly and has been on red alert,” Hong told the Daily.

Ninh Thuan is the largest tiger and white-legged shrimp producing province in Vietnam but most breeds are caught in their natural habitats. The nation has yet to make any statistics on breeds caught from natural sources, Lan said.

Due to the shortage of breeds, many farm owners have used medicines to induce reproduction of breeds to meet the large demand. “Some farms in Vinh Long Province have been found to use the medicines for two-year-old breeds. Technically, just breeds above three years old can reproduce. We know it but cannot prohibit or suspend violating farms due to lack of punitive regulations,” Hong said.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development issued regulations on the production and trading of seafood breeds but most localities have ignored them. Shortcomings have also arisen since animal health departments were assigned to inspect breed quality.

Aquaculture departments have to ask animal health workers to inspect farms suspected of having substandard breeds, giving farm owners time to sell the breeds before inspectors arrive, the delegates explained.

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