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Stronger production chain for tuna fishing a must
23/06/2014

(VOV) – Spontaneous and uncoordinated production and obsolete post-harvest technology are the major weaknesses of the tuna fishing industry that needs to be addressed soon.

Due to a recent sharp decline in tuna export price, experts have advised more effective measures should be applied to promote the sustainable development of tuna fishing and processing, including a pilot project launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Lowest export price in the world

Tuna exports have increased rapidly in recent years from US$188.9 million in 2008 to a record high of US$570 million in 2012. However, export value dropped by 10% in 2013, despite volume rising by 30% as export price declined by 40% compared to 2012.

Currently, Vietnamese tuna products are exported to 99 markets including the US, Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain, Israel, Canada, Tunisia and Mexico.

Vu Dinh Dap, Chairman of the Vietnam Tuna Association, said tuna prices were quite stable before 2011, but have dropped sharply since 2012 due to the rapid development of hand-fishing together with the use of lights.

The lights make tuna react suddenly, causing  muscle and blood to break, and meat to turn sour. Vietnamese tuna’s brand name on key markets like Japan is affected and its export prices fall dramatically.

Pham Ngoc Tuan, Deputy Director of the MARD’s Aquatic Resources Exploitation and Protection Department, points out the major weakness of the Vietnamese tuna fishing industry, saying it has yet to form a coordinated production chain. Furthermore, post-harvest technology remains obsolete, reducing the quality and value of products.

According to Tuan, Vietnam has great potential for tuna fishing, but the industry has not received much investment as tuna is not identified as a key export product.

In addition, unhealthy competition and constant price gauging hinder sustainable development of the industry.

Hopes on a new project

To deal with challenges, the MARD has introduced a pilot project on exploiting, purchasing, processing and consuming tuna in a complete chain, to help the industry develop in line with its potential. The project is in its final stage ready to submit to the Prime Minister. If it is approved and is effective in reality, MARD says it will make a breakthrough in the tuna fishing industry.

The project aims to use ocean tuna sources sustainably, in line with benefits of those involved in tuna exploitation, purchasing, processing and distribution.

By 2020 tuna fishing vessels will operate in a fleet and they all will be equipped with modern maintenance systems to minimise losses post-harvest, to below 10%.

The project will be implemented in three provinces –Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa – at an investment cost of VND760 billion.

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