The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has proposed the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) ask its member organisations in Europe to correct mistakes in the guidance manual on Vietnam’s tra (Pangasius) fish for European consumers.
At a press briefing in Hanoi on December 7, VASEP Vice President Nguyen Huu Dung described the assessments by several WWF member organisations in Europe on the status of Vietnam’s tra fish as inaccurate, lacking scientific foundations and at odds with the practical situation.
These assessments could cause not only great losses to both producers and consumers but also negative impacts on WWF prestige in terms of objectivity, honesty and transparency in its activities, he said.
According to Intrafish Media Group, WWF member organisations in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Norway and Denmark have moved a number of Vietnam’s tra fish products from the Orange List (products can be considered for use) to the Red List (products should not be used) in the 2010-2011 consumer guidance manual for the six EU countries.
This is the result of a survey conducted by an independent consultancy company hired by WWF members in these countries to assess more than 100 worldwide aquatic species under the newly-amended WWF criteria on sustainable development.
The VASEP representative has called for WWF member organisations in Europe to make public the consultants’ set of criteria and assessment indices on Vietnam’s tra fish production management.
VASEP is ready to co-operate, provide information and create every favourable condition for WWF member organisations’ experts to clarify the issue, he said.
Nguyen Huu Dung said he believed that with the co-operation of WWF and other international organisations, Vietnam’s tra fish would definitely develop sustainably and be put into the Green List in the global consumer guidance manual in the near future.
The Findus and Birds Eye Iglo Groups and a number of EU seafood companies also said the activity of a number of WWF organisations in the EU would cause losses to consumers and businesses of a number of EU countries importing and trading tra fish.
In addition, it would affect the trade relationship between Vietnam and EU countries and cause serious difficulties to the life of tens of thousands of tra fish farmers and workers in seafood processing establishments in the Mekong Delta.
Tra fish, a freshwater native fish in the Mekong Delta, is rich in nutrients. Vietnam now supplies more than 95% of commercial tra fish to the world market.
Vietnam exported 625,000 tonnes of tra fish products in 2008, including more than 224,300 tonnes shipped to the EU. In the first 10 months of this year, it exported more than 538,200 tonnes of tra fish products to 124 countries and territories, including 184,360 tonnes to the EU.
Since 2003, Vietnam has applied the standards of the quality management certification system SQF 1000, owned and operated by the US Food Marketing Institute (FMI).
Almost all Vietnam tra fish businesses have adopted the traceability system and a closed production chain to ensure the quality of their products.
Many Vietnamese tra fish farms and plants have received Global GAP certificates, the rigorous global standard for the farms since early 2010, and the Global GAP programme will be widely applied for all commercial fish farms in the 2011-2015 period. (VNA)