Creating Resilience for Ben Tre Fisheries Sector

4:02:17 PM | 19/7/2012

Together with gardening economy, fishery is considered a key economic sector of Ben Tre. From the basis of available potential and advantages, in the past few years, the fisheries industry of Ben Tre province has constantly developed in farming, catching, processing and exporting. Its export revenue helps boost the export performance of Ben Tre province in particular and of the country in general.
High economic efficiency
For years, Ben Tre has always focused investment on fisheries industry development, aiming to make it a leading and outperforming economic sector in the province. In the 2006 - 2010 period, the production value of Ben Tre province fisheries sector expanded 14.7 percent a year, relatively high in relation to other provinces and cities in the region. In 2011, the fishery production value reached VND11,560 billion, accounting for more than 40 percent of agricultural, aquatic and forest production value. Aquatic products meet export standards, particularly hygiene and safety contents.
Fisheries in Ben Tre province are developed in three types of water: Freshwater, brackish water and saline water. Sugpo shrimp, white-legged shrimp, catfish, clams and scallops are key products. According to statistics, the province has more than 43,000 hectares of aquaculture, including 5,200 ha for intensive sea shrimp farming, 26,000 ha for extensive sea shrimp farming, 4,700 ha of mollusc farming (3,600 ha for clam farming, 1,100 ha oyster farming), 650 ha for catfish farming. Ben Tre is currently the fourth producer of sea shrimps. Although it is not on the top of production volume but its product quality is very well-known. The International Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has officially certified the MSC brand for clam farming in Ben Tre, making its value rise very high.
Tra fish, a kind of catfish, has been widely raised in Ben Tre since 2007. Avoiding mistakes committed by other provinces and cities, Ben Tre has planned and managed tra fish farming in a very effective manner. Farmers do not have to suspend farming even in the toughest time. Other varieties of highly valued aquatic products like groupers have been farmed in wider scales.
In recent years, fishery production in the province has been increasing. The province presently has 4,300 vessels with a total capacity 700,000 CV, an average of 167 CV a ship, including more than 1,733 offshore fishing boats. Commercial fishing catches 120,000 tonnes a year, accounting for 42 percent of total aquatic production in the province. Hence, it creates stable incomes for farmers and fishermen in particular and coastal communities in general. Besides, fishery infrastructure development is improved gradually to meet basic sector development needs. The province established three fishing ports in Ba Tri, Binh Dai and Thanh Phu; fish markets and mooring sites. Fishery services are increasingly developed. Ba Tri and Binh Dai fishing ports annually receive over 60,000 tonnes of seafood.
In breeding development, the fisheries sector invested VND7.6 billion to build shrimp breeding production facilities covering 10 ha in Thua Duc commune, Binh Dai district. The operation of these facilities has improved hatchling production that meets two thirds of local demand. It has also transferred technologies and supported farmers to use advanced techniques and hatchlings to improve productivity, quality and disease control.
Overcoming weaknesses
Compared with Mekong Delta provinces, Ben Tre holds potential for fisheries development. But, in practice, fisheries development exposes a lot of shortcomings, particularly aquatic export processing. The province has five processing plants with a total annual capacity of 50,000 tonnes. Tra fish and oyster are two main exports. In 2011, it earned US$54 million, a value well beyond the local capacity and potential in comparison with other provinces. However, profit-seeking production facilities mainly focus on tra fish fillet and frozen clams rather than highly valued shrimp processing. Hence, most of shrimps farmed in the province are sold to processing facilities in other provinces.
Mr Nguyen Minh Canh, Deputy Director of Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: To develop the fisheries sector stably and sustainably and reach international markets, the province needs supports from central authorities, cooperation with other localities, and efforts of localities inside the province. It will focus on managing ships and allocating development criteria to specific areas based on conditions of fishing grounds and reorganising ship fleets. To increase the value of products, expand production output and enhance economic value, the sector also needs to invest in advanced post-harvesting technologies and biotechnology. It actively expands aquatic product sales in both domestic and foreign markets, introduces a mechanism to combine central supports with local capabilities for sustainable fishery development.
Hopefully, with its strategic and sustainability-oriented directions, Ben Tre fisheries industry will exploit local advantages and strengths to make breakthrough development and asserts its role as a leading economic sector in the path towards international integration and development.
Gia Hoa