Viet Nam has a great potential for aquaculture development with 3 260 km of coastline, 12 lagoons, straits and bays, 112 estuaries, canals and thousands of small and big islands scattered along the coast. In the inland area, an interlacing network of rivers, canals, irrigation and hydroelectric reservoirs has created a great potential of water surface with an area of about 1 700 000 ha, in which:
120 000 ha are small ponds, lakes, canals, gardens;
340 000 ha are large water surface reservoirs;
580 000 ha are paddy fields which can be used for aquaculture purposes; and
660 000 ha are tidal areas.
The above figures do not include the water surface of rivers and about 300 000- 400 000 ha of straits, bays and lagoons along the coast, which can be used for aquaculture activities but have not been planned yet.
However, by 2001, the total area of water surface used for aquaculture in the country was only 641 874 ha, representing 37.7 percent of the potential area for aquaculture. Notably, aquaculture practices, especially shrimp culture, are well developed in the south of Viet Nam, particularly in the Mekong River Delta where 445 154 ha were used for aquaculture in 2001, equal to 69 percent of the area suitable for aquaculture.
Along with the increase in area for aquaculture, total the output from aquaculture increased rapidly from 414 600 tonnes in 1997 to 589 600 tonnes in 2000, which accounted for 26 percent of the total output of the fisheries sector. Fish and shrimp were the main products of aquaculture with total output of 391 100 and 93 500 tonnes, respectively, in the year 2000. Shrimp culture expanded more rapidly than fish farming and between 1997 and 2000 shrimp output increased by 189 percent compared with 140 percent of fish output in the same period.
In Viet Nam, the labour force engaged in fisheries sector in unknown as aquaculture activity is normally combined with activities in other sectors. However, statistics show that there are more than 4 million people living in tidal areas and about 1 million living in swamp and lagoon areas in 714 villages in 28 coastal provinces and cities. In addition, more than 12 million households in the rural area of Viet Nam make a substantial contribution to the fisheries labour force in various kinds of fisheries activities including fish farming, fish trading etc.
Viet Nam has a great potential for fishing activity with a total area of inland and territorial waters of 226 000 km2, and an Exclusive Economic Zone of over 1 million km2. Off the coast of Viet Nam, there are more than 4 000 islands, which could provide logistic services and transhipment facilities of products onshore, and provide shelter for fishing vessels during the stormy season.
The sea area of Viet Nam is divided into four main regions; namely the northern, central, south eastern, and southwest regions. Fishing activities are classified into inshore and offshore fishing based on the depth of the sea in each region. The limits of 50 m and 30 m deep are used for the central sea region and the other regions, respectively. Owing to diversified climate and weather conditions from the north to south, the fishing season is divided into two seasons: namely the south season (from March to September) and the north season (from October to February).
Compared to aquaculture, fishing is a major contributor to the total fisheries production. In 2000, its output was 1.66 million tonnes and accounted for 74 percent in terms of quantity and 64 percent in terms of value. Mostly fish amounting to 1.08 million tonnes, accounting for 65 percent of the total quantity captured.
According to FICEN, there were 423 583 labourers engaged in fishing activities in 1997, of which 309 171 persons or 73 percent engaged in inshore fishing, and the remaining 27 percent engaged in offshore fishing. The number of labourers engaged in offshore fishing increased due to the implementation of the Offshore Fishing Development Program initiated by MOFI.
Recently, the fishing fleet in the sector has developed rapidly. By the year 2000, total number of motorized fishing vessels increased up to 72 000 units with a total capacity of 2.5 million HP and 29 000 artisanal boats. The country had 6 000 offshore fishing vessels, which have an engine power of 90 HP upwards. The number of transport and service vessels accounted for 0.7 percent in terms of quantity and 2.1 percent in terms of capacity, which was very few as compared to the need. Fishing, transport and service vessel fleets continue to increase under the implementation of the offshore Fishing Development Program.
In 1998, the country had 187 processing factories, with a freezing capacity of about 200 000 tonnes/year. Twenty-seven factories met standards required by European markets. Programmes are being implemented for investing and improving food safety requirements and processing technology, applying quality management systems in use with GMP, SSOP, HACCP and for the equitization of state-owned enterprises.
Vietnamese fisheries products are exported to most regions of the world. In 1998, fisheries products were consumed in 50 countries and territories. The export turnover had increased dramatically to US$1 777 billion in 2001, equal to 217 percent of that of 1998. It is estimated that the fisheries sector contributed as much as 12 percent to the total national export value. The main export products of Viet Nam for the last years were frozen shrimp/prawn, frozen finfish, dried squid, mollusc/crustacean and tuna. Among the export products, the frozen shrimp/prawn was the highest value products, which contributed 44 percent to total fisheries export value, while accounting for only 23 percent of the total export volume. Vietnamese fisheries products have been widely consumed in highly developed markets such as the United States, Japan and Europe, the major export markets. In 2001, according to FICEN, the largest share of fisheries export value went to the United States market, then to Asia (excluding Japan), followed by Japan with proportions of the total export value of 28 percent, 27 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
It is forecasted that by 2005 the countrys export turnover would reach US$ 2.7 to 3 billion per year. At that time, the total fisheries production would be 2.55 million tonnes, of which 1.4 million tonnes would be contributed from capture fisheries and the rest of 1.15 million tonnes from aquaculture.
In order to achieve these targets, the total area under aquaculture would need to increase to 1.4 million ha, of which 300 000 ha would have been transformed from rice culture to aquaculture. For capture fisheries, it is planned that 30 new fishing ports would be built and preservation technology used by fisherfolk could be upgraded.
According to the Ministry of Fisheries Domestic markets under subproject 3 of the Master Plan Project for Viet Nam Fisheries (1996), in the period 1985-1995 no specific laws and regulations dealing with the domestic fisheries market had been issued. The domestic fisheries market is under the control of general economic policies, laws and regulations of the nation. However, recently, national policies and regulations have been issued in order to promote domestic marketing along with the development of the fisheries sector as a key economic sector.
In order to promote the export of fisheries products and assist fisheries exporters to integrate with regional and global markets, the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP) was established in 1998. In addition, a Fisheries Development Programme has been specified in the Fisheries Development Strategy Period 2000-2010 of the MOFI, which has three economic target programmes namely Programmes on Offshore Fishing, Aquaculture Development and Fisheries Export Development.
For the domestic market, attention has been directed towards the improvement of the market network. MOFI has policies encouraging development of fish wholesale markets or transaction centres. Thus far, a fisheries transaction centre has been established in Ho Chi Minh City, and two others are planned for Khanh Hoa and Ben Tre provinces. Moreover, under the assistance of the ADB, 17 key fishing ports nationwide have been improved with provision of basic logistics for fishing and fish trading onshore. Recently, the Government of Viet Nam has established a policy of promoting contract farming in order to link production with marketing and processing activities. The following present some key points of the development policies for the fisheries sector.
Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP)
VASEP was founded in 1998. Currently, it has 120 members as fisheries processors and exporters nationwide. Its aims are to coordinate and join activities of its members from different economic sectors, regardless of their production and business scale, assisting members to improve value, quality and compatibility of Viet Nams sea products. VASEP represents and protects the legitimate rights of its members and of the seafood industry of Viet Nam. So far, it has taken part in the promotion of fishing and aquaculture to develop raw material sources and protect the prestige of the industrys products in the media and with consumers. In addition, it provides members with free-of-charge weekly and monthly Seafood Trade Newsletters with up-to-date information and special reports. Also it arranges a variety of training courses.
Fisheries export development programme
The Prime Minister of Viet Nams Government issued the Decision 251/1998/QDTTg, dated 25 December 1998, on approval of a programme on Development of Fisheries Export to the year 2005. The objectives of the programme were as follows:
hasten the progress of industrialization and modernization in Viet Nams fisheries sector;
increase fisheries export value in order to reach US$1.1 billion by the year 2000 and US$2 billion by the year 2005;
make fisheries sector a key economic sector of Viet Nams economy;
create more jobs, contribute to the improvement of peoples life, put a new face to rural areas and coastal regions, and solve questions on environment and ecology;
connect closely fisheries export with aquaculture, fishing, preservation and consumption of products;
create firm bases for fisheries production and effective exploitation of fisheries potential;
improve the quality of fisheries products, reduce production costs, increase efficiency and capital accumulation, and
improve competitive capability and expand markets for fisheries products.
Development of fisheries wholesale market
In May 2002, Can Gio seafood transaction centre (a shrimp market) officially opened its doors in An Nghia hamlet, An Thoi Dong Commune, Can Gio District and HCM City by Cho Lon Import-Export and Investment (Cholimex). The centre receives supplies from Can Gio and Nha Be districts and Long An and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces, and provides information on market, shrimp breeding, feed and veterinary medicine, and others. It has two trading sessions a week.
According to the centres data, 250 tonnes of shrimps have been registered for sale, of which 74 tonnes have been sold to seven businesses during four trial sessions and the first official session with a participation of about 300 farmers.
According to the Sai Gon Times, the tenth session of the centre witnessed the purchase of 10 tonnes out of 49.8 tonnes of tiger shrimp registered for sale by 11 farmers mainly from Ben Tre and Tien Giang southern provinces. The increasing number of farmers registering their shrimp for sale demonstrates that the centre has become a fish wholesale market for the region.
Policy promoting contract farming
On 24 June 2002, Vietnamese Prime Minister signed Decision no. 80/2002/QD-TTg on the policy promoting contract farming. The Decision encourages enterprises in all economic sectors to have farming contracts with farmers in order to create a stable link between farm commodity and processing and marketing activities to enable sustainable farm development.
The farming contracts should be signed at the beginning of a farming season, a year, or a production cycle in the form of credit advancement, technical assistance, and farm produce purchasing; input provision and farm produce purchasing; or direct farm produce purchasing and production cooperation. The farming contracts must cover the required items and be prepared on forms issued according to the law. During the implementation of the contract if either of the two parties violate any signed items they must bare full responsibility for any loss that may result.
 Many of the tables in this
paper provide results of a multiple response analysis. It is therefore important
to keep in mind the implications for the interpretation of these numbers because
they are not based on equal events (e.g. cases of same or at least similar
transactions) but may refer to quite different events. For example, a
transaction of 1 000 kg from fisher to wholesaler and one of 10 kg from fisher
to retailer are counted as two events and as such used in the calculation of
percentages with the interpretation that the fisher accounted for sells to
wholesaler and retailer or that wholesaler and retailer receive supplies
directly from fisher. Hence, the basis of the calculation is the number of
nominations of a transaction from/to, not in any way a quantification of its
magnitude. The result can be nothing more than an indication of an order of
importance of transactions within the marketing channels from production to
consumption. This needs to be kept in mind when reading the language used in the
 The total export volume of fisheries products in 2001 was 375 491 tonnes.