May 28, 2007


Antibiotics make dent on Vietnam's tra and basa catfish exports


The abuse of antibiotics and other prohibited medicine have hurt Vietnam's tra and basa catfish in the global market, according to a Dutch expert.


According to Vietnam News Bridge, Dr Karin van de Braak, from the Netherlands' Wageningen University, said the unprecedented growth of aquaculture industry has led to many appalling consequences such as the appearance of epidemics.

Statistics show that some 30 to 35 percent of farmed fish suffer from diseases caused by bacteria and parasites, according to Karin.

To deal with the ailment, fish farmers try to use many types of drugs, including antibiotics. As a result, the number of rejected seafood exports has been on the rise: 80 exporters in 2003 and 215 in 2005. Most of the recent shipments were found to have banned chemicals such as Malachit Green, Oxytetracyline, ß-lactamin, quinolone, aminosid and many other kinds of antibiotics.

Siemelink, an expert on veterinary drugs under the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, said that regulation and production of veterinary drugs was always strictly controlled in European countries and should be emulated by Vietnam. Karin said that in order to maintain sustainable development it was necessary to discover ways to control epidemics and ensure fish's health.

Nguyen Tu Cuong, head of the National Fisheries Quality and Veterinary Directorate (Nafiqaved), said that if Vietnam would face consequences such as polluted environment, fish and human epidemics, and loss of export markets if it does not follow international safety regulations.

Karin has urged Vietnam to implement EurepGAP standards for Vietnam's tra fish if it wants to retain the EU market. During the farming period, farmers must follow SQF or safe quality food steps programme recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

Deputy Minister of Fisheries Luong Le Phuong inviting experts from countries importing tra and basa to Vietnam to give advice on farming and processing fish can the best solution for the problem.

Tra and basa cultivation and processing in the Cuu Long River Delta had been growing dramatically in the last few years. The province of An Giang had 100 hectares of water surface area for tra and basa cultivation in 2004, while the surface area had unexpectedly increased by seven times just one year later. In 2006, the figure rose to 1,200 hectares.

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