A pilot programme to monitor origins and quality of seafood processed in the Cuu Long ( Mekong ) Delta provinces has been undertaken in response to an EU regulation requiring Vietnamese seafood imports to certify the location of the catch, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Under the programme, the ministry, in collaboration with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was monitoring seafood processed in the city of Can Tho and in Dong Thap province from input to output, with both breeding units and suppliers being supplied their own identification numbers and barcodes to identify product origins in the event of a claim of substandard quality.

Nguyen Nhu Tiep, deputy head of the National Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, said the department was prepared to deploy the programme within the month in about 50,000 breeding units in the Delta provinces of An Giang and Ben Tre.

Some 13 different types of information were being tracked, from where and when products are bought and sold, to what and when the fish have been fed, including pharmaceuticals, he said.

Apart from improving food safety, the monitoring would allow problems to be pinpointed and prevent all seafood exporters from bearing responsibility for a single consignment detected as sub-standard, Tiep added.

The main obstacle to implementing the programme, according to Le Chi Binh, vice chairman of An Giang Province’s Aquacultural Association, was training breeders to embed their fish, take notes, and manage required information.

“Farmers will take some time to get familiar with the new control system,” he said. Thieu Ngoc Thai, a pangasius breeder in Can Tho, said the programme would not only tighten control of his breeding but also create more challenges for him.

Vietnamese seafood is exported to 145 countries worldwide, with exports generating 420 million USD in August alone, bringing export value in the first eight months to 2.6 billion USD./.