Increased competition in exports and saline intrusion in Mekong Delta among issues casting a cloud over industry.
Despite figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) putting Vietnam’s fisheries export value in the first quarter of this year at $1.36 billion, up 1.7 per cent year-on-year, enterprises in the sector are not at all confident about their future.
Many see that Vietnam will face numerous difficulties and challenges due to saline intrusion in farming areas and increased competitiveness in key export markets.
The Directorate of Fisheries at MARD said the ongoing saltwater encroachment in the Mekong Delta seriously impacts on aquaculture, especially freshwater prawn breeding. Around 2,000 ha of intensive shrimp farming has already been damaged.
In the first two months of the year the area for shrimp breeding in the region totaled just 386,000 ha, including 358,000 ha for giant tiger prawns and 9,700 ha for white leg prawn, equivalent to 86.6 per cent and 72.5 per cent of the area in the same period of last year.
Many fisheries enterprises said they have had to decline contracts due to a shortage of prawns.
According to the Secretary-General of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), Mr. Truong Dinh Hoe, farmers have narrowed their cultivation area because of concerns over disease and water shortages but he also noted that increasing export prices at present will motivate them to expand cultivation once again.
Vietnamese fisheries producers and processors hope for stronger growth over the next few months as international seafood products fairs are held, offering them the chance to study market demand, seek partners, and expand markets.
Demand for prawns in the global market in 2016 is forecast to increase by between 3.5 and 5 per cent compared to 2015 and this represents an opportunity for Vietnam to bolster its exports.
Vietnam aims for $4 billion worth of shrimp exports this year, Mr. Hoe said.