October 7, 2008


Vietnam approves US$51.6 million plan to improve bio-tech species for aquaculture

Vietnam's government has approved a US$51.6 million bio-technology plan aimed at getting the fisheries sector up to ASEAN standards, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Viet Thang.

Domestic and foreign enterprises were being encouraged to join the move, he said.

The ministry would also work with relevant sectors to look at international laws to protect domestic bio-tech products.

With more than 40 projects, the bio-tech plan is expected to meet 30 percent of demand for disease-resistant fisheries breeds such as prawn, tra catfish,  African carp, crab and red snappers by 2010.

This would rise to 70 percent by 2015 and by 2020, the ministry aims to have all needs satisfied by the domestic bio-tech sector.

However, the industry has multiple challenges ahead.

According to Deputy Director of the ministry's Technology Department Pham Anh Tuan, the fisheries sector has already completed studies on various aquaculture species.

However, the application of that knowledge was carried out at in places which lacked modern equipment. Fishermen often bred stocks using traditional techniques, which offen led to weak resistance against disease.

Also, each seafood research institute has only one lab which serves various projects simultaneously, Deputy Head of the Seafood Research Institute Dao Manh Son said.

Lack of trained staff was also an issue.

Thang urged research institutes to send talented scientists on 6-12 month study-trips to countries with well-developed fisheries bio-technology.

Vietnam's aqua farmers also face volatile prices, lack of successful breeds and often has to contend with outbreaks of disease.

Currently, Vietnam's Mekong Delta accounts for 55 percent of the country's seafood exports.

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