Fisheries remain to be a leading hard currency earner in agriculture, recording over 4.9 billion USD in the 2010 export revenue or a 17 percent increase year on year.

Nguyen Huu Dung, Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said seafood exports gained ground in all major overseas markets. Export revenues to the US , for example, recorded a growth rate of 27 percent, the Republic of Korea , 17.8 percent, and Japan , 17 percent.

With export prices continuously up 1.7 percent over the previous year, shrimp led in the field with 2 billion USD in the export revenue, accounting for 40.7 percent of the sector’s gross figure.

Tra fish also enjoyed a huge jump-up in exports, earning some 1.4 billion USD for the nation from exports of 680,000 tonnes last year.

Growth rates even hit 200 and 300 percent in Thailand and Russia , respectively, despite numerous difficulties, said VASEP Deputy General Secretary Nguyen Hoai Nam .

He cited dumping lawsuits and catfish name imposed by the US, the trifluralin residue problem and the red-listing of tra fish in the consumer guidance manual published in several European markets as major trade barriers against Vietnam’s tra fish and shrimp.

Consequently, the exports of tra fish have sent out signals of stop, leaving a number of tra fish raising ponds empty, thus making the product supply fall short and leading to a surge in prices.

Nam forecast that the lasting situation at least until June and a low growth in tra fish exports in 2011.

Thailand , the Philippines , Malaysia and Indonesia have also embarked on raising tra fish with financial support from their governments, causing more difficulties for the domestic tra fish culture, said Vu Van Dung, head of the Aquaculture Department under the General Department of Fisheries.

In an effort to cope with these difficulties, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has set itself to intensify investment in improving quality to record between 1.45 and 1.55 billion USD in tra fish export revenue and over 2 billion USD in shrimp export revenue.

MARD Minister Cao Duc Phat said his ministry planned to base growth on sustainable factors such as resource refreshing, safety for fishermen, gradual restructuring of the fishing and aquaculture sector and reduction of coastal fishing while boosting offshore fishing.

MARD also asked the fisheries sector to strictly apply internationally-recognised standards codes and rules on quality evaluation in aquaculture and seafood processing on a large scale.

The National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQUAD) has asked shrimp and tra fish exporters interested in the Japanese market to register quality testing and certifying at regional agricultural, forestry and seafood centres. The department has also called on the Government to put a ban on Trifluralin in aquaculture and exporters to work with wholesale dealers and farmers to reach commitments to non-use of the chemical./.