Favourable weather conditions and new boats helped fishermen for the first seven months of the year, compared to the same period last year.

A least 1.43 million tonnes of fish nationwide have been caught, a rise of 6.8 percent against the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In the central province of Khanh Hoa , fishermen in Tam Ky City's Tam Thanh Commune said they had caught more belt fish this year than ever before.

Each small fishing boat can net up to 5000-1,000 kg of belt fish a night, and earn a profit of 5 million VND (250 USD).

Since June, fishermen in the central coastal provinces of Binh Thuan, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa have had a bumper catch of mackerel.

Le Thanh Tam, owner of an offshore fishing boat in Phu Yen's Dong Hoa District, said his boat caught 5 to 10 tonnes of mackerel for each trip.

Fishermen in the central provinces , which lead the country in tuna catches, have caught a large quantity of tuna this year.

In Binh Dinh Province , the catch has reached 5,635 tonnes; Phu Yen, 6,000 tonnes; and Khanh Hoa, 1,000 tonnes.

The ministry's Directorate of Fisheries said the seafood industry has contributed greatly to the country's economic growth.

Last year, the country caught more than 2 million of various kinds of fish, up 4 times against 2001.

However, over the past 10 years, the seafood industry has had problems in management, catching and production, according to the directorate.

The directorate is drafting a project to reorganise production to increase the effectiveness of seafood catches.

The project is estimated to cost about 6 trillion VND (285 million USD). The aim is to catch 2.4 million tonnes of various kinds of fish species a year by 2020.

In addition, the country's output of aquatic species reached 1.65 million tonnes in the first seven months of the year, an increase of 5.8 percent year-on-year, according to the ministry.

Of the output, tra fish, one of the major fish exports from the Cuu Long ( Mekong ) Delta, accounted for more than 635,400 tonnes.

About 6,000 ha is under tra fish cultivation in the Delta. The price of tra fish in An Giang Province increased by 500-1,000 VND a kg last week, as tra processors resumed their operations.-VNA