Seafood exports are forecast to grow by 8-10 percent per year, with annual export value to grow from a current level of about 5 billion USD to 6.5-6.7 billion USD by 2015 and 8 billion USD by 2020, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam.

The US, EU and Japan would continue to be the three primary export markets for the nation's seafood, accounting for 60-65 percent of total exports.

To meet the targets, the industry would move beyond its reliance on current key products like tra fish and shrimp and develop the export potential of other seafood products, including tuna, tilapia, shellfish and seaweed, Tam said.

Former deputy minister Nguyen Thi Hong Minh said that the seafood industry had been developed and modernised to become more competitive but would need to take further steps to reach the ministry targets, including better balancing the supply of raw materials with the demand of seafood processors.

Minh noted that a State-sponsored fund must be established to promote Vietnamese seafood in a number of countries, with exporters required to contribute to the fund.

It would make the seafood industry better prepared to respond to such challenges as the Word Wildlife Fund's listing of tra fish in its "Red Book" of endangered species.

At that time, Vietnam failed to mount a strong campaign to protest the listing, Minh said, succeeding only in holding conferences that disseminated information to authorities and enterprises.

In the first five months of this year, the nation's seafood exports totalled 2.1 billion USD, an increase of 27.3 percent over the same period a year ago, according to ministry figures./.