The Hanoitimes - Vietnam’s General Directorate of Fisheries has decided to use VietGAP (Good Agricultural Practice) standards for certification of Tra fish for export, paving the way for exporters to later acquire certification from international agencies.
Representatives in the aquaculture industry also agreed with the decision. As the directorate provides free support and certification in line with VietGAP standards for local farmers, they can save more costs compared to GlobalGAP, ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) for minimizing key environmental and social impacts, or SQF (Safe Quality Food) 1000.
Speaking at a seminar on Vietnam’s sustainable aquaculture certification systems in HCMC early this week, General Directorate of Fisheries vice head Pham Anh Tuan said consumers in different markets give priority to various certificates, such as GlobalGAP in Western Europe and the U.S. and ASC in Northern Europe. Meanwhile, consumers in Eastern Europe and Africa have no requirements for such certification.
The certificates are only concerned with the main issues of environment protection, food hygiene and safety, social responsibility and product origin. “The VietGAP certificate includes all of these issues and it will help exporters upgrade to other certificates easily,” Tuan said.
Nguyen Viet Thang, chairman of the Vietnam Fisheries Society, said all the standards of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are actually based on clean aquaculture criteria of the Food and Agriculture Organization but NGOs attach importance to different criteria.
“Vietnamese Tra fish exporters having applied the VietGAP only have to improve environmental criteria to get an ASC certification. Therefore, certification fees will be lower,” Thang explained.
Nguyen Huu Dung, vice chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said Vietnam last year had around 6,000 hectares under Tra fish farming with total output of 1.35 million tons. The farming areas are mostly in Ben Tre, Tien Giang, Dong Thap and An Giang, which makes the VietGAP application simple.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2006 issued a decision requiring at least 50% of seafood farming area in Vietnam meeting GAP or other international standards by 2010.
However, the nation has yet to apply VietGAP standards so far while local businesses are facing pressure of achieving international standards.