VietNamNet Bridge – The World Wide Fund (WWF) has transferred tra catfish to the red from the yellow list in its latest guides. This is evidently an intentionally biased and groundless suggestion that will negatively affect Vietnam’s tra fish export.
Consumers are encouraged to look for an alternative to the red-listed species. The WWF says consumers can buy products from the yellow list but suggests they choose only secondary green-listed species.
Explaining the decision, WWF coordinator Powell told Intrafish that the downgrading stemmed from "problems with governance".
A biased and nonsensical decision
Responding to the information, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam said this is a biased and nonsensical decision. Answering the questions from Nguoi lao dong newspaper, he said: “The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has requested its departments to clarify if this is really an accusation from the WWF. If this is an official statement from WWF, I can say that this is a biased and groundless conclusion”.
“MARD will soon express its official voice to the WWF and relevant international organizations. The information will very seriously influence Vietnamese tra farmers and badly affect Vietnam’s tra fish exports. The WWF’s decision is highly enigmatic and it is unclear about whom it is supporting by launching such a biased conclusion,” Tam said.
According to the Deputy Minister, the WWF has close ties with Vietnam and it is cooperating with Vietnam in many fields, including aquaculture. However, this is a hasty and groundless decision.
“I can affirm that the process of farming, processing and exporting tra fish products gets the approval of GlobalGAP - the world measure of standards for agricultural produce, including aqua culture. Vietnam’s tra fish products have been exported to many countries in the world. If Vietnam’s tra fish products did not meet the requirements, they would never be able to be accepted and favored by picky markets, such as Japan, the US or the EU,” he continued.
Nguoi lao dong newspaper has also quoted Dr Duong Nghia Quoc, Director of the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, who is also the Chair of the Dong Thap province’s Fisheries Association as saying that one must not say the feed for tra fish is not safe.
“No one uses self-made feed in tra farming. The materials for making feed are imported from different countries in the world. Therefore, no one can say that the feed is unsafe,” he affirmed.
Regarding the environment protection, Quoc said that the existing research institutes and local observation stations have been working diligently to ensure the standards are maintained on environment protection in farming areas.
Nguyen Huu Dung, Deputy Chair of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) said on Phap luat Thanh Pho HCM newspaper that after hearing the news about WWF’s decision, VASEP tried to contact the fund to clarify the issue. However, WWF has not given satisfactory explanations yet.
Nguyen Viet Thang, Chair of the Fishery Association, also said that it is an unreasonable decision to put tra fish into the red list. In the last many years, the aquaculture and processing all have always been following the regulations set by FAO and GlobalGAP. Vietnam’s tra fish has also received certificates from quality organizations in big markets in the world.
When talking with Vietnam News Agency, Deputy General Director of the Directorate of Fisheries Pham Anh Tuan said that the WWF’s recommendations lack scientific foundations. According to Tuan, the recommendations bear bad intentions, thus badly affecting Vietnam’s tra fish industry and global consumers.
Dan Viet newspaper has quoted a source from the directorate as saying that recently, Vietnam’s tra fish has been “attacked” in the European market and on a report on the US Today channel. Most recently, tra fish has become the subject of possible anti-dumping lawsuits. However, many big seafood retail groups in the world such as Findus Group and Birds Eye Group have voiced the support towards tra products and tra farming environments.
Vietnam's tra catfish are exported to more than 120 countries including the US and the European Union.