Despite a sharp growth in tuna exports in recent years, experts asserted that yet more effective measures should be applied to promote the sustainable development of tuna fishing and processing.

In the last five years, Vietnam has enjoyed a surge in tuna sales, which hit 520 million USD last year, up from 188 million USD in 2008.

Currently, about 3,500 vessels, or 14 percent of the country’s fishing fleet, manned by about 35,000 fishermen, have engaged in offshore tuna fishing. Vietnam’s yearly tuna haul is estimated to reach 600,000 tonnes in 2014.

However, Nguyen Ngoc Oai, deputy head of the General Fisheries Department, held that Vietnamese fishermen have yet to exploit the full potential of the sector. He attributed the limitations to old-fashioned technology in tuna fishing, processing and distribution.

This has resulted in a decrease in the quality and value of the product, despite a surge in catching, he said, adding that the trademark and competitiveness of Vietnamese tuna have also been affected.

According to Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Tuna Association Chu Tien Vinh, tuna fishing should be defined as a key factor in the country’s offshore fishing sector. Adequate attention and management are also needed, Vinh underlined.

Sharing Vinh’s opinion, Pham Ngoc Tuan, deputy head of the Aquatic Resources Exploitation and Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Department, said the links between tuna processors and exporters with the market have yet to be effective. This has led to the state of a concrete strategy for targeted markets.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Van Hung, Vice Director of the State Bank of Vietnam in Khanh Hoa province, asserted that the bank should design support policies in credit for tuna fishers and processors.

Currently, SBV has yet to deploy credit for owners of tuna fishing vessels due to the high risks in the sector.-VNA