“Mariculture: Transforming from traditional to industrial” (21-03-2023)

That was the topic of a workshop organized by Tuoi Tre Newspaper in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Binh Dinh Provincial People's Committee on the morning of February 14, 2023 at the Binh Dinh Provincial Convention Center.
“Mariculture: Transforming from traditional to industrial”

The world's large "aquatic granary

Leaders from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Directorate of Fisheries, leaders from Binh Dinh and Phu Yen provinces, leaders from the Vietnam Sea Breeding Association, leaders from Tuoi Tre Newspaper, representatives from Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sub-Departments of Fisheries in central coastal provinces and cities, experts, scientists, businesses, and people involved in fishing and aquaculture from all over the country attended the workshop.

Mr. Le Xuan Trung, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Tuoi Tre Newspaper, stated at the Conference's commencement: "The workshop "Mariculture: Transforming from traditional to industrial" is one activity of the Forum "Developing the fisheries industry: Sustainable exploitation - Promoting farming", which is initiated by Tuoi Tre Newspaper in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Binh Dinh Provincial Peoples Committee, with the assistance of the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) and a number of aquaculture and seafood processing enterprises...

"During the Lunar New Year 2023, I happened to meet a group of Korean tourists in Phu Quoc, and they told me two reasons why they came back to Vietnam," Mr. Trung explained. The first reason is that you can swim here because there is a blue sea, a cool breeze, white sand, and golden sunshine, whereas in Korea it is cold and bitter cold. The second reason is that you can enjoy fresh seafood, diverse processing, and low prices. Thus, Vietnamese seafood has become "delicious bait" on the menus of Korean tourists, creating an additional strength for Vietnam's tourism.

"And the fishery has contributed to creating that much national brands for Vietnam. Vietnam's seafood export turnover reached a record of 11 billion USD in 2022, placing it among the top three seafood exporting countries in the world. It can be said that Vietnam has become one of the world's major "fishery granaries," Mr. Trung added.

According to Mr. Trung, it was previously difficult to imagine that shrimp could bring our country more than $4 billion USD, and pangasius could bring nearly $2 billion USD... These two important products were be achieved in 2022 primarily through farming rather than exploitation, demonstrating that Vietnam's aquaculture industry has made significant improvement. That is a fundamental and long-term development direction that has been identified as the slogan "Sustainable exploitation - Promote farming".

"And for aquaculture to achieve good results, we need not only a well-organized strategy and planning, but also short-term and long-term feasible solutions at different levels and scales. Of course, we should not be overly concerned with output, but rather with improving the quality of exported seafood and ensuring food safety and hygiene from farmer's ponds to consumer's tables. Water pollution, fragmented farming models, outdated hatcheries and cages, and other issues that have been raised must be actively addressed in development strategy and plans of the central and local authorities”, according to Mr. Trung.

For a sustainable mariculture

At the seminar, representatives from government administrative agencies, organizations, businesses, scientists, and fisheries experts discussed a variety of mariculture issues, including: Why switch from traditional to industrial mariculture? Producing high-quality marine fingerling; Mechanisms to reduce for the long-term development of industrial marine farming in Vietnam; Using science, developing, and transferring technology towards a sustainable mariculture...

The participants also discussed the shortcomings in the farming and exporting processes, ranging from local planning to unreasonable quality control barriers imposed by domestic authorities that enterprises faced. Propose and design changes to assist businesses in investing in raw material areas, exporting, developing markets, and building brands...

"Sea farming is a way to increase fish production in the perspective of declining fishing stocks," At the moment, marine farming is mostly practiced on a small scale, with structures made of traditional wood materials that cannot withstand large waves. Aquaculture farmers primarily use fresh food, but farm density is not guaranteed, resulting in a polluted farming environment. As a result, storms cause economic losses, shrimp and fish die due to a lack of oxygen and toxins, and ecosystems degrade.” said Mr. Vo Si Tuan, a member of the Science & Technology Advisory Council of the Vietnam Marine Aquaculture Association.

"Because of spontaneity and fragmentation, fishermen primarily "learn from scratch," and technology transfer is limited to personal experience. As a result, the development of a scientific and business linkage model aims to solve a number of pressing issues, including the production and supply of artificial feed for lobsters, the breeding and planting of high-quality seaweed, and the rational planning and organization of farming in some provinces. Long term, it is necessary to develop and implement a mechanism for campaigning and managing finance that is advantageou for investment in science and technology, as well as to protect intellectual property," Mr. Tuan added.

"Vietnam has great potential to develop marine aquaculture," says Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Huu Dung, Chairman of the Vietnam Marine Breeding Association. There are approximately 50,000 mariculture stakeholders in nationwide, the majority of which are family-scale, small-scale, spontaneous, and use outdated and unsustainable technology. There are currently no offshore aquaculture facilities in the country.

As a result, Mr. Dung stated that in order to develop sustainable marine farming, a shift from traditional farming to industrial farming is a must. Movement from enclosed, coastal waters to open and offshore waters. Simultaneously, developing on-shore closed culture systems with circulating technology for the collection and treatment of environmental waste is a trend. Enterprises must play a key role in promoting development and creating linkages in farming, processing, and exporting products in order to develop industrial marine aquaculture. However, due to a lack of planning and procedures for allocating marine areas to organizations and individuals, marine farming activities are currently facing many difficulties and problems. Vietnam has not issued marine aquaculture standards and regulations, and it lacks policies to support the development of the industry…

"On the side of the Vietnam Marine Aquaculture Association, we have recommendations for the early issuance of new Decrees to replace Decrees 11/2021/ND-CP and 67/2014/ND-CP. To establish standards and regulations for marine farming as soon as possible. Promoting the development of sustainable marinculture (of the country and each province). Developing a mechanism for marine economy inter-sectoral management coordination. Build industrial marine farming models in each community," Mr. Dung added.

The potential for mariculture in Vietnam is gigantic, especially given that aquatic resources are rapidly depleting, making a rapid transition to modern industrial development an unavoidable development trend. Vietnamese seafood, adding value to the seafood industry while also attracting tourists. However, there are still many difficulties and challenges to overcome, both in the short and long term.

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