First of all, on behalf of the Ministry of Fisheries of Viet Nam, I would like to express my warmest welcome to all the distinguished participants in the Workshop on Asia-Pacific Trash Fish. I would like to wish you all good health and happiness.
Over the past years, the fast growth rate of the fisheries sector has led to the fact that this sector has become one of the spearhead economic sectors in Viet Nam. The fisheries production has been increasing year-by-year, having exceeded 3 million tonnes in 2004 (3 037 000 tonnes), of which the aquaculture production reached over 1.1 million tonnes. Total fisheries export volume rose to over 2.2 billion USD in 2003, and nearly 2.4 billion USD in 2004. At present, Viet Nam seafood is imported into 86 countries and territories worldwide.
Besides the above achievements, Viet Nams fisheries sector is also facing several big challenges such as the declining coastal resources, the slow seafood catching growth rate compared to the increase in the number of fishing boats and fishing capacity. The portion of trash fish caught in the recent years has also been on a rise while the portion of caught fish with high economic value is decreasing.
Being fully aware of the consequences of the declining marine fisheries, and in order to conserve and utilise the marine resources appropriately to improve the living standards, create employment for the coastal communities as well as to retain a sustainable source of materials for seafood processing and export, the Government and the fisheries sector of Viet Nam have been putting a lot of efforts in promoting aquaculture, stabilising the marine catch production, focusing on increasing offshore fishing and reducing the inshore fishing capacity. Currently the aquaculture sub-sector is developing strongly and widely in all the provinces throughout the country. The demand for feed used in aquaculture has been rising steadily, while the major source for aquaculture feed and feed production is from marine fisheries, which are the trash fish that is normally not used for human consumption, and the damaged products caused by the poor post-harvest reservation process. Trash fish is also used widely in the feed production for castle and poultry in agriculture.
In addition to that, as also happening in other developing countries in the region, trash fish in Viet Nam is still used for human consumption in some coastal communities and processed for food for inland communities. It is that high demand for trash fish that has been putting a great pressure on the coastal resources, which have already been overexploited. The exploitation of juveniles of high economic valued species is also affecting negatively on the reproduction and development of these species.
In that context, the Ministry of Fisheries of Viet Nam welcomes the initiative of the Asia-Pacific Fisheries Commission, FAO regarding the organisation of this Regional Workshop on Asia-Pacific Trash Fish. This is quite a large regional workshop dealing with this issue, which has been able to gather many leading experts in the area of trash fish exploitation and utilisation in the region. We do hope that the Workshop will come up with a clear picture of the current situation of trash fish exploitation and utilisation in each country and in the region in general, the influence of trash fish use on aquaculture, marine fisheries and livelihoods of coastal communities, and based on that we will set out orientations for the exploitation and utilisation of trash fish in order to conserve the marine resources in our waters and to utilise our common natural resources appropriately.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Asia-Pacific Fisheries Commission for the initiative and the organisation of this Workshop. My thanks also go to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), the WorldFish Center (WFC), the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), the Mekong River Commission (MRC), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR), as well as the governments of regional countries for sending participants to the Workshop. Thank you all for participating.
I would also like to thank the Asia-Pacific Fisheries Commission and Danish International Development Agency for their financial support in the organisation of this Workshop.
Once more, I would like to wish you all good health, success and happiness. I wish our Workshop will be a great success.
Thank you very much for your attention.