The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is putting the final touches to a project building a complete production chain in tuna fishing, in an effort to improve the industry’s output, product quality and added value, thus achieving sustainable development.

Tuna ranks third among the major seafood exports of Vietnam after “tra” fish and shrimp. It brought home more than 526 million USD from 112 markets around the world in 2013. However, stricter demands on product quality, origin and labour safety by international organisations and consumers, as well as fierce competition in the world market, are posing challenges to the industry.

Meanwhile, tuna fishing in Vietnam still relies on small-scale activities, with fishermen focusing mainly on output while neglecting post-harvest preservation, affecting product quality, said Vu Dinh Dap, President of the Vietnam Tuna Association.

According to the Agriculture and Rural Development Department of central Phu Yen province, one of the three leading tuna fishing localities in the country, most local fishermen use small and low-capacity boats with poor preservation equipment.

The pending project will be implemented in the central provinces of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa with a total budget of 760 billion VND (35.72 million USD). Under the project, the tuna fishing fleet will be upgraded with credit assistance offered to fishermen. The management of fishing activities will also be re-organised in the direction of issuing quotas and licences depending on the seasons.

In addition, a fleet of logistics vessels will be built on a trial basis to provide supplies and buy products from fishing vessels at sea. With modern post-harvest preservation equipment, the logistics vessels aim to reduce post-harvest losses to under 10 percent while meeting international standards on origin. A specialised port will also be built at Quy Nhon fishing port in Binh Dinh province to offer a wide range of facilities including cold storage and an auction market.

Experts have pointed to the need for a training plan targeting fishermen, which should equip them with up-to-date fishing and fish preservation skills in order to turn tuna fishing into a modern industry.-VNA