Fisheries sector expected to grow up

Ha Noi, Dec. 23 (VNA) -- The fisheries sector is trying to join the world's major exporters in the first decade of the century and its turnover is expected to reach USD 2.5 billion by 2005 and USD 3.5 billion by 2010.

In its year-end report, the sector identifies the successful structural shift from coastal to off-shore fishing, intensive fish farming, the upgrading of processing technology to best international standards, and a larger share of the world's markets, especially in the United States and Japan, that all led to record exports of more than USD 1.3 billion or almost 50 percent more than 1999 as the basis for its ambitious plan.

With government financial and technical support through a programme titled No 773, the sector has launched 1,345 off-shore fishing boats during the last four years, thus increasing the national fleet to 73,600 motorized vessels.

As a result, off-shore fishing landed more than 241,000 tonnes of sea produce or almost 30 percent of the national catch.

Several provincial off-shore fleets have made initial profits. An example was southern coastal Ben Tre province, which posted a post-tax profit of more than VND 5.7 billion last year.

Intensive fish farming is expanding along the coast, especially from the southern central province of Khanh Hoa south, with a per-ha yield of between 2.5 tonnes and 6 tonnes a season.

Some places, such as Thach Phuoc village, Ben Tre province, reported a catch of 9.2 tonnes per ha a season.

The industrial-scale farming enabled the sector to exceed export turnover of USD 1 billion in October despite the century's worst flooding in the Mekong Delta from July to November.

It mean the fisheries sector has contributed one-twelfth of national export value this year.

A constant upgrade of processing technology has been very helpful to the expansion export market share.

So far, 60 sea-food processors have applied the HACCP technology acceptable to the U.S. market which now takes 25 percent of Viet Nam's aquatic export and 40 have been granted quotas for direct export to the European Union.

Viet Nam's aquatic foods are available in 60 countries and territories. This year's exports to Japan were up by 43 percent over the last year, cornering more than 36 percent of the market.

The achievements should enable Viet Nam to match world giants in aquatic-food export by 2005 or 2010, Viet Nam Communist Party General Secretary Le Kha Phieu told the sector's year-end meeting.--VNA