Vietnam's Minister of Fisheries, Ta Quang Ngoc, has instructed Mekong delta provinces to invest in upgrading production facilities to turn out high-quality aquatic products - an important economic sector for the region.
Businesses must continue to increase their competitiveness in processing sea food for export, constantly promote trade, expand markets and restructure products to ensure sustainable development in agriculture and rural areas in 2004 and beyond, he said.
The Minister said businesses should focus on research and analysis of production costs in aquaculture, particularly lobster raising and aim to lower costs. Strict measures should be taken in managing young shrimp production, feed supply and chemicals used in aquaculture.
Farmer households getting involved in aquaculture should continue to diversify export products, by raising new species of shrimp, fish and other sea products. Producers should also focus on developing high-value products for export, including processed cuttlefish and mollusc.
In an attempt to minimize risks in export, the Ministry of Fisheries has also recommended that aquatic product exporters set up and consolidate their alliances with fish farmers, anticipate technological barriers in import countries and prepare all necessary conditions to solve any trade disputes likely to arise from export activities.
The move has helped Mekong Delta provinces secure high earnings for seafood exports this year. The southernmost province of Ca Mau is taking the lead with US$410 million, followed by Soc Trang, US$278 million; Kien Giang, US$67 million ; and Bac Lieu, US$127 million
However, the Mekong Delta is facing difficulties in protecting the environment and maintaining supplies of young prawn and feed for shrimp. The major problems in the region are the spontaneous construction of shrimp farms and unreasonable aquatic product export structures. Stiff competition on the world markets is also another challenge for the region.