Too many required standards make Vietnam’s tra fish “caught in a net”

20110630183230_tra fish306 Every import market sets up its required standards on the tra fish imports from Vietnam. The existence of too many standards has made Vietnamese enterprises confused.

Nguyen Van Kich, Director of Hau Giang-based Cafatex, a seafood company, said that tra exports to the EU market must have HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certificate, while Japan and the US do not require this.
According to Jose Villalon, representative from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the US; tra fish products have to bear 23 different standards relating to the farming process, while there is no “golden standard” which can be applied by all importers. As a result, Vietnamese exporters have got confused with too many standards, while they have to spend much money to get certificates for different standards.
Nguyen Viet Thang, Chair of Vinafish, said on Tien phong that the existence of too many kinds of certificates has put a hard pressure on farmers. Besides the requirements set up by import countries, retail chains and importers also set up requirements themselves. They ask Vietnamese farmers and exporters to follow the standards and only accept to import the products if exporters can show the certificates.
It is really a problem for farmers, because when beginning farming, farmers do not know to whom they will sell the fish, therefore, they do not know which standards to follow.
Some seafood experts have warned that it is a “trick” by some non-government organizations which try to create scandals and then impose new standards on exporters. After Vietnam’s tra fish was put into the red list in the consumer guide in Europe, some countries including the Netherlands and Germany have required Vietnam’s tra fish exports to show ASC certificate (Aquaculture Stewardship Council).
Peter Hamaker, Director of Mayonna Company in the Netherlands, said that tra fish is just the victim of mass media and some non-government organizations in some European countries.
The same thing once occurred with farmed eels in the country. Farmed eels sourced from the country were dominating the market of many European countries, when baseless rumor about the unsafe products, which led to the sharp falls of the eel exports.
Nguyen Ngoc Hai, Chair of the Thoi An Tra Fish Cooperative in Can Tho, said that it is inevitable to apply standards in aquaculture and processing. However, he said that in order to build up a fish pond which can meet Global Gap standards; one would need billions of dong. Therefore, farmers would not be able to follow Global Gap without the support of enterprises.
According to Peter Hamaker, as for caught seafood, western consumers believe in MSC certificate, while as for farmed seafood, they believe in ASC. He has suggested that Vietnam needs to take initiative in meeting the requirements of the US market and the EU, and those Vietnamese farmers should go from Global Gap to ASC.
He said that this is the key to be able to meet the demands of consumers in the two markets, while this could be seen as massage to consumers about the safe and environment friendly aquaculture process.
Dan Viet has quoted its sources as saying that even European importers have expressed their worry about the boom of certificates. There are 23 different kinds of certificates.
Nguyen Tu Cuong from Vinafish said on Dan Viet, that he is not sure about the confirmation of the representative from WWF, that if Vietnam has ASC certificate, it will be able to raise the sale prices and the sales in European market.
According to Cuong, in 2004, an organization from Europe built a sustainable development certification system for Vietnam, affirming that the export volume and the export price would increase by 30 and 20 percent. But this has not come true.


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