Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vietnam, WWF sign pangsius sustainability agreement

Even the Vietnamese news media are now reporting fairly accurately on the outcome of my last week of intensive work.

Reproduced here in its entirety since it reflects the Vietnamese view of the situation. More from me later, I'm a bit tired right now...

Tra fish off the red list

HA NOI — Viet Nam and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) yest-erday signed a Memor-andum of Understanding recognising both sides' commitment to ensuring that tra (pangasius) fish is globally recognised as a sustainable aquaculture product.

The signing came two days after the WWF's Global Seafood Programme director Mark Powell agreed to remove Viet Nam's tra fish from the red list in its consumer guidance manual.

Under the MoU, both sides are committed to an initial five years of co-operation.

The two groups will help enterprises and tra farmers understand the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) labels which certify that seafood farms meet global standards for responsible aquaculture.

The global standards for pangasius aquaculture were finalised in August 2010. The ASC, a non-profit organisation founded in 2009 by the WWF and the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative, is expected to start labelling products that qualify from mid 2011.

As part of the MoU, the WWF will be responsible for developing a global market for Viet Nam's ASC-certified tra fish, which can be sold at higher prices.

The organisation will also help Vietnamese pangasius products obtain ASC labelling.

The co-operation with the WWF would help Viet Nam remove barriers preventing its tra fish from entering the world market, said vice chairman of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers Nguyen Huu Dung.

"The country's tra industry will have to adopt sustainable production processes and meet the higher requirements from the international market," he said.

In the next two years, Viet Nam was set to have 20 per cent of its exported tra fish meet an international standard on sustainable pangasius aqua-culture, including 10 per cent with ASC labels, said Dung.

By 2015, three quarters of the country's exported pangasius would meet international standards, and half would carry ASC labels, he added.

In five years' time, Viet Nam would export 8,000 tonnes of tra fish and sell half of it with ASC labels at much higher prices, said Dung. — VNS

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