Fisheries exports down in July hinh anh 1Processing Tra fish for export to the US (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) Fisheries exports declined 4 percent year on year in July after surging 15 percent to earn 4.1 billion USD in the first half of 2021 as the COVID-19 outbreak has forced many seafood processing plants in the south to suspend production, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

VASEP now has a total of 270 producer members, mostly in the Mekong Delta and south central regions, said General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe. Just around 30 percent of seafood producers in the south can adopt “three-on-site” model, which involves on-site production, dining and rest, to be permitted to maintain production, he noted.

In those able to keep the production going, the headcount only accounted for 30 – 50 percent of the normal level since the remainders had quitted or taken unpaid leave, causing capacity to shrink 50 – 60 percent, he added.

Tra fish companies are struggling to purchase fresh inputs from farmers, said Truong Thi Le Khanh, Chairwoman of the Vinh Hoan Company, a tra fish producer in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap. Tra fish must be collected from different locations to provide inputs for production but travel restrictions have made it very difficult to do, she noted.

The VASEP forecast that export-led production is likely to suffer a 20 – 30 percent lack of inputs in the final months of the year due to a decrease in fishing and fish farming, and inputs for processing and exporting, while financial pressure is on a rise as a result of cancelling orders and costly “three-on-site” model.

The association is proposing the government to prioritise vaccinations for workers at seafood processing factories that are applying the model in order to prevent the risk of mass COVID-19 infections. It said if these workers are vaccinated against the virus, seafood processing plants will be able to sustain production, keep their buyers, and maintain employment for a large number of people./.