The fishery industry in the first nine months of this year earned nearly $6 billion from exports, up 18.1 percent year-on-year.
The US, Japan, China and the Republic of Korea were Vietnam’s largest seafood importers in the period, accounting for more than 55 percent of the country’s total seafood export value.
In the domestic market, price of the industry’s materials also increased sharply in the wake of low supply sources amid rising demands. A kilo of tra fish in September rose by VND2,000-2,500 to VND24,500-25,000 in the Mekong Delta provinces. Shrimp’s price also increased by VND20,000 per kilo to VND260,000-270,000 in the region.
Shrimp is processed for exports to the EU market.
Seafood export is expected to accelerate in the end months of the year thanks to rising demands in the upcoming holidays and festivals including Christmas and New Year.
New regulations on illegal fishing
However, domestic seafood exporters are also concerned about new US, EU regulations on illegal fishing.
The EU is set to rule this month on the Vietnamese seafood industry’s compliance with its regulations on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and the US has just announced new rules relating to the same issue. Facing scrutiny from two significant seafood markets, local seafood exporters are anxious, and worried that both their fellow companies and the Government aren’t doing enough to meet importers’ requirements.
Earlier this year, the EU fisheries working group announced that Vietnam is likely to receive a yellow card from EU inspectors, particularly if it did not fulfill IUU fishing requirements related to anti-mining. Such a ruling could have far-reaching implications for the country’s seafood exporters. September 30 was the deadline for Vietnam to show improvements on the requirements, and the ruling will be issued at the meeting on October 20 by the EU mission to the Government Office, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, VASEP and some agencies related to IUU.
A yellow card creates nervousness among EU retailers about seafood imported from that country, and they may look elsewhere to buy. Other import markets will also strengthen checks of seafood exported by that country. If a country gets a red card, its seafood products will be banned in the EU.
Chairman of Thuan Phuoc Seafood and Trading JSC Tran Van Linh said that although the company’s exports of seafood to EU account for less than 10 percent of the total export value, the company has still been working with other enterprises to fight against IUU fishing.
He said if the EU issues a ‘yellow card’ to Vietnam, it will affect the image and reputation of Vietnam’s seafood export in the world market.
According to a list provided by the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), 57 Vietnamese businesses have committed to combat IUU fishing. These enterprises will only purchase seafood from licensed fishing vessels and only import legally exploited seafood. The list includes several businesses that have never exported to the EU, but want to demonstrate the Vietnamese fishing community’s commitment to addressing the problem.