The culture systems are diversified according to national geographical and climatic conditions, the northern region is dominated by freshwater fish ponds, rice-cum-fish and marine cage culture; the central regions concentrate on the intensive culture of giant tiger prawn and the marine cage culture of fin fish or lobster and the southern part of the country has the most diversified farming activities that include pond, fence and cage culture of catfish as well as several indigenous species, various intensification levels of giant tiger prawn culture and integrated culture such as rice-cum-fish, rice-cum-prawn and mangrove-cum-aquaculture.
The aquaculture sector began commercial production for export in the early 1980s with the farming of the giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) initially. A major motive towards expansion of aquaculture in Viet Nam was provided by the sharp increase experienced in the volume of aquaculture product being exported. A remarkable achievement of the aquaculture sector has been the increase in total production to 1 150 100 tonnes from a farmed area of 902 900 hectares and which has contributed over 60 percent of the US$ 2.397 billion in export turnover earned from the fisheries sector 2004.
The farming of giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) and catfish (cá tra - Pangasius hypophthalmus and cá basa - Pangasius bocourti) are the most developed sectors reaching production levels of 290 000 tonnes and 315 000 tonnes respectively in 2004. Other species such as spiny lobster (Panulirus spp.), groupers (Epinephelus spp.), bivalves (Meretrix lyrata and Anadara granosa), tilapia, Chinese carps, Indian carps, climbing perch (Anabas testudineus) and Indonesian snakehead (Channa micropeltes), are also produced to differing levels of intensification and extent.
The aquaculture sector in Viet Nam has great potential to continue its current growth; however, there are a number of challenges ahead for the sustainable growth of the sector.
During the initial period, marine and brackishwater aquaculture along with rice-cum-fish farming attracted a great deal of attention from farmers and aquaculturists alike. Typical marine aquaculture was first practiced in Kien An commune, Hai Phong city in 1962 and the first artificial juvenile fish production was successfully achieved in 1963 (Chu et al., 2003). Several aquaculture farming systems such as rice-cum-fish, lake, riverine and earthen pond were also developed during this period, the rice-cum-fish farming became increasingly popular at that time with over 100 000 ha. under cultivation. During the time of the Viet Nam war (1963-1975), the aquaculture sector was supported and promoted because of its importance in providing food for people and the military. In 1965, around 15 000 aquaculture cooperatives and state-run enterprises were established across the country, some localities such as Hai Phong and Thanh Hoa had significant aquaculture development, especially shrimp farming for export.
In addition, aquaculture was also considered as a major career at district level in these locations (Chu et al., 2003). After Vietnamese reunification, the fisheries sector including aquaculture was identified as a key economic sector for the nation, the total aquaculture production gradually increased from 59 000 tonnes in 1976 to 160 000 tonnes by 1980. Export turnover from aquaculture and capture fisheries reached US$ 11.2 million in 1980 (MoFI, 2003).
During the second stage of the sectors development, shrimp farming for export has dominated aquaculture since 1981. Aquaculture has been encouraged to develop in many localities at the household-scale, there were at this time three main aquaculture farming systems in Viet Nam, which are inland, marine and brackishwater. Rapid export growth created a major reason for the sharp increase experienced in aquaculture over the last two decades, aquaculture farmers started to diversify their farming practices by adapting to species suitable for export, of which giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon), catfishes (cá tra - Pangasius hypophthalmus and cá basa - Pangasius bocourti), lobster (Panulirus spp), groupers (Epinephelus spp) and bivalves (Meretrix lyrata and Anadara granosa), are the most commonly produced. Many aquaculture systems have also been developed across the country providing high intensity production and integrated systems.
The period between 1999-2001 witnessed a peak in growth of aquaculture, aquaculture now accounts for about 670 000 workers out of the total of 4 million in fisheries. The area under aquaculture has now reached nearly one million hectares with a total output of over one million tonnes which provides about 80 percent of the materials required for the processing and export sectors. The total revenue obtained in 2004 was over 6 000 billion VND with an export turnover of US$ 2.397 billion (MoFI, 2005).
Culture systems are more diversified in the southern part of the country, these include pond, fence and cage culture of catfish as well as several indigenous species such as snakehead fish and climbing perch and giant river prawn. Shrimp farms are operated here as either improved extensive, semi-intensive or intensive systems. Furthermore, integrated farming systems such as rice-cum-fish, rice-cum-prawn and mangrove-cum-aquaculture are broadly practiced across this region.
In freshwater areas, the catfishes (Pangasius hypophthalmus and Pangasius bocourti) which are farmed in the Mekong River Delta have the highest production. There are several other popular cultured fish species that contribute significantly to the total freshwater fish production, these consist of species belonging to the Cyprinidae family such as the silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus), common carp (Cyprinus carpio), bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis) and the major Indian carps including catla (Catla catla), rohu (Labeo rohita) and mrigal (Cirrhinus mrigala ) (Le, 2003). More recently, mono-sex tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) has also been introduced into inland and brackishwater aquaculture. In addition, giant river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii), climbing perch (Anabas testudineus) and Indonesian snakehead (Channa micropeltes) are the most popular cultured species in the southern part of Viet Nam.
In marine culture the most popular species consist of lobster (Panulirus spp.), grouper (Epinephelus spp.) and seaweed (Gracilaria verrucosa), these species dominate the central coastal areas of Viet Nam. Where as, shrimp (Penaeus monodon), mud crab (Scylla spp.) and the bivalves (Meretrix spp. and Anadara spp.) are the most popular cultured species with the highest production in brackishwater areas, particularly in the south of Viet Nam.
A number of cultured species with good potential have been focused on in research and development activities in efforts to increase the number of species under cultivation. These new species include cobia (Rachycentron canadum), abalone (Haliotis spp.), maculated ivory whelk (Babylonia areolata), silverlip pearl oyster (Pinctada maxima spp.), whiteleg shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) and barramundi (= giant sea perch) (Lates calcarifer).
The most common culture practice is marine shrimp farming at differing levels of intensification. According to MoFI (2004), shrimp farming systems in Viet Nam in 2003 comprised 3 percent semi-intensive and intensive, 22 percent improved extensive and 75 percent extensive or semi-extensive culture. Of these, intensive culture shared 10 percent and extensive culture shared 60 percent of the total shrimp production. The productivity of improved extensive was 0.25-0.30 tonnes/ha/crop; semi-intensive, 2.5-3.0 tonnes/ha/crop and intensive shrimp farming 5.0-7.0 tonnes/ha/crop (MoFI, 2004 and 2005).
Marine finfish such as groupers are cultured in small cages in Quang Ninh and Hai Phong provinces in the north and in Nghe An, Khanh Hoa and other coastal provinces in the central regions. Large cage culture of cobia has been introduced from Norway. Lobsters (Panulirus spp.) are farmed mainly in the Central coastal provinces with small cages using juveniles collected from the wild.
Catfish are cultured using intensive practice in freshwater, in the diverse habitats of the Mekong River Delta they are cultured in cages, ponds, and fences at high densities. The use of pond culture for catfish is increasing rapidly, while cage culture is decreasing, fence culture, although a new system to the delta, its practice is increasing gradually. The productivity from cage culture has reached over 100 kg/m³/crop while productivity from pond culture varies from 183-582 tonnes/ha/crop depending on the stocking density (Nguyen et al., 2004 and Le, 2004), productivity of up to 345 tonnes/ha/crop has been obtained from fence culture.
The fish yield from rice-cum-fish farming varies from 482-808 kg/ha whereas yield from livestock-fish polyculture has ranged from 467-1 456 kg/ha depending on the stocking densities used (Nguyen et al., 2005).
The farming of giant river prawn is a new practice in the country and is mainly carried out in the Mekong River Delta, this species is cultured in ponds, pens and integrated or alternated with paddy rice production, alternate culture of rice with prawn is considered as having a high potential for further development. The productivity of prawn culture varies with the culture practices employed and ranges from 100-887 kg/ha/crop for integrated rice-prawn culture systems, to 384-1 681 kg/ha/crop for alternate rice-prawn culture (Nguyen et al., 2005), and 140-160 kg/m²/crop for pen culture (Vu et al., 2005).
Shrimp and catfish are considered as two of the major aquaculture products for Viet Nam which are mostly produced in the Mekong River Delta. In 2004, the production of shrimp (Penaeus monodon) reached 290 000 tonnes, representing 56.8 percent of the total for coastal aquaculture production. Likewise, production of catfish (Pangasius hypophthalmus and Pangasius bocourti) reached 315 000 tonnes, making up 51.3 percent of the total freshwater aquaculture production. The production of giant river prawn was estimated about 7 000 tonnes in 2003 (Le, 2004).
The remaining aquaculture production is farmed in the northern and central regions, in the north, freshwater aquaculture production comes mainly from the Red River Delta and reached 124 253 tonnes in 2003. Marine aquaculture, however, is dominant in the central part of Viet Nam and focuses mainly on shrimp farming and cage culture. There were a total of 40 159 cages in operation in this area during 2003, of which 32 706 cages were used for the culture of lobster (MoFI, 2004). Total production from marine cages reached 2 327 tonnes, of which lobster production accounted for 1 830 tonnes. Bivalves are mostly farmed in the coastal provinces in the south with a total production of 130 474 tonnes (MoFI, 2004).
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Viet Nam according to FAO statistics:
The total export of aquatic product by November 2004 reached 79 265 tonnes, the Japanese market was top with 31.4 percent (equal to 106 610 tonnes) of the total. The share taken by the EU has increased and reached 9.9 percent in 2004. Exports to the EU during 2004 amounted to 67 251 tonnes while China and Hong Kong imported 42 999 tonnes of aquatic product, Korea consumed 63 386 tonnes and ASEAN markets shared 38 322 tonnes (MoFI, 2005). Shrimp products made up 52 percent of the total volume of aquatic products exported.
In 2004, the export turnover to the United States of America was only US$ 523 million, a decrease of 27.7 percent compared to that of 2003. In contrast, the export turnover to the Japanese market was at its highest (US$ 680 million), an increase of 31.4 percent. EU markets contributed US$ 215 million of the export turnover, an increase of 88.1 percent compared to year 2003. The value of exports to China and Hong Kong reached US$ 117 million and the ASEAN countries and Korea contributed US$ 152.9 million and US$ 125.7 million, respectively. Among the six major exported Vietnamese aquatic products, shrimp and catfish have been the key products and contributed significantly to Viet Nam's export turnover value. The target for aquatic export turnover for 2005 will be in the order of US$ 2.6 billion (MoFI, 2005).
The support divisions assist the Ministry to fulfill its state management function, these are the divisions of aquaculture, collective and individual economic sectors, planning and finance, science and technology, international relations, legislation, personnel organisation, bureau of capture fisheries and aquatic resources management, bureau of quality management, hygiene safety and fisheries veterinary services, ministerial inspectors and ministerial offices.
Specialised institutions support the Ministry with regard to research and development, these are the Research Institute for Marine Fisheries, the Institute for Fisheries Economics and Planning, the Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 1 (based in the Bac Lieu near Hanoi); the Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 2 (based in the Ho Chi Minh City), the Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 3 (based in Khanh Hoa province, in central Viet Nam) and the National Fisheries Extension Center and Information Center.
There are also unions and associations which support the development of the fisheries sector, these are the Labour Union of Viet Nam's Fisheries Sector, Viet Nam's Fisheries Association and the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers.
The scientists who specialise in aquaculture have studied and perfected the artificial production of seed and juveniles for the aquatic species that are important for the production of product for export. These species include marine shrimp (Penaeus monodon), climbing perch (Anabas testudineus), Indonesian snakehead (Channa micropeltes), spotted gourami, mud crab, swimming crab (Charybdis affinis), maculated ivory whelk (Babylonia areolata), cobia (Rachycentron canadum) and orange-spotted grouper (Epinephelus coioides).
Applied research related to freshwater aquaculture includes artificial seed production, rearing of juveniles and grow-out of some of the indigenous species in the Mekong River Delta. In addition, there has been advanced research on the application of technological developments to the production of Pangasid catfish (cá tra and cá basa) in both seed production and grow-out phases. Likewise, applied research was conducted on the artificial seed production and commercial grow-out of giant river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii), improvement of yield in the integrated rice-cum-fish and rice-cum-prawn farming systems as well as fish pond culture.
With regard to marine and brackishwater aquaculture, besides some economically important aquatic species which have been studied such as giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) and mud crab (Scylla spp.), other new species have also been studied and developments made in seed production and grow-out culture in recent years. These species include orange-spotted grouper (Epinephelus coioides), cobia (Rachycentron canadum), red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), barramundi (= giant sea perch) (Lates calcarifer) and waigieu sea perch (Psammoperca waigiensis), swimming crab (Charybdis affinis) and oyster (Crassostrea sp.). In addition, seed production techniques for blood cockle (Anadara granosa) and green tiger prawn (Penaeus semisulcatus) have been studied and broodstock maturation techniques for donkey's ear abalone (Haliotis asinina) have been studied and applied to Viet Nam's aquaculture.
Technologies for the production of aquaculture feeds have been perfected including feeds for the culture of catfish, shrimp, orange-spotted grouper, cobia, maculated ivory whelk and tilapia through the use of cheap raw materials which are locally available. This has contributed to a reduction in input costs for production (MoFI, 2005).
Other basic research was also carried out to improve the culture environment, for example related to the integrated culture of sea cucumbers and giant tiger prawn in pond culture, the polyculture of brown marbled grouper (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus) with abalone (Haliotis asinina), green mussel (Perna viridis), seaweed (Kappaphycus alvarezii) in marine cage culture and the use of seaweeds as bio-filter species in shrimp culture, etc.
In addition, the application of bio-molecular methods in aquaculture such as RAPD (Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA) and RFLP (Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism), fish nutrition, diseases, genetic and breed selection have been researched and applied.
In terms of education and training, according to MoFI (2005), there were 156 staff who were trained and obtained bachelor degree of aquaculture in 2004; 1 278 staff at intermediate level in fisheries (including aquaculture); and 2 876 skilled workers who were trained during 2004. There have been 18 staff who have participated in master or doctorate programs in other countries and many fisheries staff have taken short training courses both in Viet Nam and abroad.
Total aquatic production and export turnover value will be increased, especially with regard to aquaculture. The increase in the proportion of aquaculture production continues to show a positive trend, i.e. 31.2 percent in 1991 and 36.1 percent in 2000 to 43.8 percent of total national aquatic production by 2003 (Nguyen, 2005). The growth in value of total production has been maintained at the rate of over 10 percent, the growth in export turnover is expected to remain over 8 percent annually in the coming years.
Standardisation of the criteria for the location of safe and clean aquaculture operations will be prepared for implementation, monitoring and quality control of aquaculture seed, feeds and chemical treatments will be improved. A new approach to community-based management of aquaculture areas will also be further implemented.
According to the MoFI (2005), the supply of aquatic seed is considered a key factor for aquaculture development, the quality and quantity of aquatic seeds will be focused upon to ensure a sufficient future supply for aquaculture use. The composition of key farmed species will be developed to meet the needs of both commercial aquaculture development and export requirements. Further development in future of marine and coastal aquaculture will also take place.
In addition, both the export and domestic markets will be expanded to absorb the production potential for aquatic products in Viet Nam and to stimulate further development of aquaculture. The quality of aquatic products has also been enhanced to meet the demand from export and domestic markets, the diversity of aquatic products will be linked to an increase in the domestic per capita consumption. Attention will also continue to be given to the continued development of branding and image of Viet Nam's exported aquatic products to assist in the expansion of export markets as well as its market share.
Applied research, education and training activities will be developed to meet the need for the sustainable and effective development of the fisheries sector, particularly in aquaculture during the period from 2005-2010.
Alongside these positive trends and advantages in continuing to develop aquaculture, Viet Nam's fisheries sector (including aquaculture) is also faced with several issues which require to be addressed, namely:
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