2017 Seafood exports expected to reach US$7.1 billion

12:16 | 12/02/2017 Trade

(VEN) - The fishery sector achieved satisfactory results in 2016 despite numerous difficulties due to unfavorable weather conditions. Fishing and aquaculture output increased, and exports reached a record high of US$7 billion, 6.5 percent higher than 2015. The sector is expected to grow further in 2017. Vietnam Economic News’ Thanh Ha spoke with Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vu Van Tam.  

Vietnam exported an estimated US$7 billion worth of seafood in 2016

Could you share the fishery sector’s 2016 results?

In 2016, the fishery sector had to cope with numerous difficulties, including damaging cold in the northern provinces, droughts in the Central Highlands and south-central areas, salinity intrusion in the Mekong Delta, and marine pollution in the central region. Despite these challenges, the sector continued to develop and significantly contributed to maintaining the growth of Vietnamese agriculture. Fishing and aquaculture output totaled an estimated 6.7 million tonnes, with export value of about US$7 billion, up 2.5 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, compared with 2015.

Brackish water shrimp and tra fish production continued to grow strongly. In 2016, brackish water ponds totaling 700,000ha yielded 650,000 tonnes of shrimp, up 3.17 percent compared with 2015.

Tra fish value chains are being developed by gathering farming households to set up cooperatives and promoting cooperation between farmers and processing facilities. In 2016, tra fish ponds totaled 5,050ha, equivalent to 99 percent of the annual plan, yielding an estimated 1.15 million tonnes of fish. Selling prices to processing facilities fell at harvest times but increased towards year’s end. The production of other kinds of aquatic products, such as tilapia, mollusks, sea fish, lobster, and blue claw shrimp, was stable. Traditional methods of fish breeding were maintained.

What lessons did the fishery sector learn from its development in 2016, and what will be its focus in 2017?

The fishery sector drew constructive lessons from its management work in 2016, and learned how to turn difficulties and challenges into opportunities in order to bring its advantages into play.

In 2017, the sector will continue to boost aquaculture and fishing activities. Currently, brackish water shrimp is raised in ponds totaling more than 700,000ha, of which 95,000ha are used to raise shrimp by industrial methods while more than 600,000ha are used for extensive farming. Ecological shrimp farming remains of small scale with low yields. The sector will concentrate on taking suitable measures to enhance the average yield of aquatic products.

State management authorities from central to local levels need to provide guidance for the fishery sector to maintain effective control of disease and antibiotic residues, as well as input elements of aquatic products, especially the quality of baby aquatic animals. At the same time, it is necessary to apply safe aquaculture methods. In 2017, the fishery sector also needs to take the initiative in coping with unfavorable weather conditions, such as droughts and salinity intrusion, as well as export difficulties.

Governmental Decree 36/2014/ND-CP needs to be amended to create a favorable legal framework for tra fish development. Tra fish businesses should make further efforts to overcome technical barriers in importing countries. A national strategy is required to boost pangasius (shark catfish) development, focusing on creating high quality products and brand building. Tra fish processing will be intensified to create products of higher added value. Greater attention will be paid to promoting tra fish sales in the domestic market to outlets with more than 90 consumers. We expect to see a breakthrough in tra fish development in 2017.

What challenges do you think will face the fishery sector in 2017?

Climate change and natural disasters will continue to challenge agriculture and the fishery sector, in particular. Diseases and market-related difficulties will be other challenges. The experience of the fishery sector in 2016 and previous years allows us to believe that it will be able to turn these challenges into opportunities in 2017.

Improving management and ensuring the safety of aquatic products are the fishery sector’s top priorities in 2017. Fishing

and aquaculture output is expected to total 6.85 million tonnes. The export value is set to reach US$7.1 billion.

Thanh Ha