Disclaimer: This is not an extensive review of aquaculture in each country, this is a digest of the news about aquaculture in Asia-Pacific released on Internet this month. The validity of any information or figures quoted is the responsibility of the individual newspapers and websites concerned. Also, please check previous updates: August 2009, September 2009,October 2009, November 2009, December 2009, January 2010, February 2010, March 2010.
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- Prawn farmers jailed for illegal imports
Four aquaculture companies have been fined and three prawn farmers jailed for illegally importing feed. The companies were fined $40,000 to $80,000 for the breaches after an Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service investigation in 2006 at prawn farms at Mission Beach, Proserpine and Yamba in northern New South Wales. Farm managers, who pleaded guilty in the District Court in Brisbane, were jailed for three to four years .
- Construction begins on aquaculture center
Construction has begun on Cambodia’s first marine breeding centre, which is set to provide up to half a million young fish to the Kingdom’s farmers each year. Ground breaking began at the US$6.6 million (624 million yen) Marine Aquaculture Development Centre in Muoy district, Preah Sihanouk province, on Monday. It is hoped the centre, which is financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will double fish production in the province and help alleviate poverty in the area. When it is complete, the complex is set to include a fish hatchery, maturation building and a research facility to help breed hundreds of thousands of young shrimp, sea bass and grouper. Farmers in Preah Sihanouk have welcomed the development. Ung Puth Molika, manager of Angkor Shrimp Farming Company, in Veal Rinh district, said that the creation of a breeding centre for young marine creatures will save her time and increase her profits. Currently, she has to import baby sea bass and grouper from Thailand and Vietnam for between $0.10 and $0.20 a head. Six to nine months later, the mature fish are sold for between $3.50 and $10 per kilogram, she said. It is not known how much the new centre will charge for fingerlings .
- Blaming China over the Droughts of Mekong is Wrong- Cambodian PM Hun Sen
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday slammed foreign countries who put the blames on China over droughts of Mekong River is groundless. Speaking at a country’s institute of agriculture Hun Sen said any blames on China over droughts of Mekong River is wrong and saying that the climate change globally was to be blamed instead. “The level of water in the Mekong River is totally depends on rain and the level of water fluctuates is depends of the climate change,” said Hun Sen in loud tone defending China who did nothing wrong related to the lower level of Mekong water. “I am not defending China, but I saying this only to provide justice for China,” Hun Sen said he had a separate talk with China and Laos on his sidelines of the Mekong summit in Thailand. Hun Sen also said that the climate change hit countries worldwide .
- Can China Eat Enough Asian Carp to Save the Great Lakes?
The voracious invasive Asian carp has already overwhelmed the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, providing plenty of opportunity for fishermen to aid in the fight and make a buck to boot. But the bony fish has been a tough sell to American diners, who prefer plumper varieties that are easy to fillet. Asian carp are too bony for American tastes but popular in Asian markets. So this week, Big River Fish Corp. in Pearl, Illinois, will ship 40,000 pounds of Asian carp to China, where it's considered good eating instead of an environmental menace. Another Illinois distributor, Schafer Fisheries in nearby Thompson, has also been exporting Asian carp to Israel (although that market has recently hit the skids due to tariff issues). But with Asian carp amounting to 500 million pounds of biomass in the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers -- as many as nine out of every 10 fish sampled in some sections -- fish vendors haven't yet been able to drum up enough business to make a dent in the population. Of course, shipping 30 million pounds of anything across the globe carries a hefty carbon footprint, but it also represents only a tiny portion of the fish shipped internationally. And with the Asian carp population ever-multiplying, experts in the Midwest say the benefits may outweigh the consequences. Big River projects that its Chinese exports will be enough to reduce the Asian carp population to manageable levels in the Illinois and Mississippi rivers after about five years. At that point, the company plans to switch back to distributing other fish species, which will have the chance to rebound without the carp taking all their food and space -- or at least that's the plan .
- Tilapia and Fiji's Fish: Revisited.
A little while back Christie Wilcox wrote an article about a recent study which largely blamed farmed Tilapia for the loss of native biodiversity in Fijian waterways. She has since received e-mails from Gerald Billings, the Head of Aquaculture at the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests in Fiji. He expressed his concern over the paper's intent and subsequent findings. As a scientist, Christie Wilcox believe strongly in impartiality, so she has posted the entirety of his response to the study. She also felt the need to comment more on this paper. Indeed, there are many sides to the story here, and she consider that her first pass was a little short-sighted .
- NOAA hearings to address national aquaculture policy
Federal officials plan to hold a meeting in Honolulu next month to ask the public about the nation's aquaculture policy. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the April 27 meeting will be a "listening session." NOAA officials say they want to hear ideas from the public that will help the agency develop a new national policy for "sustainable marine aquaculture". The agency will hold similar meetings next month in Rhode Island, New Orleans, Seattle and Menlo Park, Calif. Hawaii is home to several offshore aquaculture operations growing fish such as moi, or Pacific threadfin. A startup company hopes to farm bigeye tuna off the Big Island . [
- What is Pono Aquaculture?
Fish farming is an important cultural tradition and key to ensuring future food security in Hawai'i. But it must be done in a pono (proper) way to ensure the health of pristine ocean and wild fisheries for future generations. The newly-formed Hawai'i-wide Pono Aquaculture Alliance aims to discuss the meaning of pono aquaculture, to learn how to protect pristine waters and wild fisheries from the expansion of industrial fish farms and how to help shape the future of fish farming in Hawai’i .
- Factory Fish Farming in Hawaii Expected to Expand By 900 Percent
The two mega factory fish farms in Hawaii, Kona Blue Water Farms and Hukilau Foods, LLC. Hukilau Foods, were recently approved to quadruple production. According to a Food and Water Watch report the industry isn't regulated strictly enough resulting in waste and chemicals being released directly into the once virgin waters. And as the industry expands dramatically, the repercussions from a lack of regulation will be dramatic. According to the press release, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be holding one of several hearings across the nation on developing a national offshore aquaculture policy on April 27th in Honolulu, HI. A recent report released by Food and Water Watch outlines how expansion of more sustainable fish farms could successfully fill necessary quotas in a sustainable manner. The alternatives include Loko 'ia, traditional fishponds and land-based recirculating aquaculture systems. Loko 'ia, traditional fishponds are semi-circular walls made from lava boulders and coral which keep the fish inside while allowing the sea water to ebb in and out. Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) are a series of culture tanks and filters where water is continuously recycled. To prevent the deterioration of water quality, the water is treated mechanically through the removal of particulate matter and biologically through the conversion of harmful accumulated chemicals into nontoxic ones. This is much better than traditional factory farming where the fish become damaged because they are packed so closely that their fins rub against each other. Also, factory fisheries often add dyes and antibiotics to the fish that can be harmful to the end product. As the quality of the water deteriorates in enclosed tanks, the fish begin to absorb the toxins and chemicals floating around in the water. These toxins and chemicals contaminate our oceans .
- Is There an Open Season on Open Ocean Aquaculture?
Is Hawaii ground zero for industry testing of factory fish farms? Or is it home to responsible open ocean aquaculture? The answer varies depending who is asked. It's called open ocean aquaculture and when it comes to Hawaii critics say it is open season. Hawaii has long been considered an industrial testing ground for factory farms. The report claims these farms are damaging ocean ecosystems while sapping the local economy. It also states fish farms cram large numbers of fish into huge open-ocean cages or nets, decimating the livelihood of local fishermen and harming consumers with the chemicals, antibiotics and concentrated fish waste that flow into the ocean. "There is no detectable impact on water quality, the farm site itself is out in water over 200 feet deep over a sand bottom," said Neil Sims, Co-founder, President, CEO of Kona Blue Water Farms Inc. "There is no evidence whatsoever of any proliferation of pests or parasites in those fish" . The manager of the state's Aquaculture Development Program supports commercial open-ocean fish farming. “We see the benefits of open ocean aquaculture and aquaculture in general to provide a safe food source for the population. We know that Hawaii needs to become more self sufficient. We import over 80 percent of our seafood now,” said Todd Low, manager of the state Aquaculture Development Program .
- Seaweed cultivation helps in reducing impact of global warming
Seaweed cultivation reduces impact of global warming, as it has the ability to absorb carbon dioxide, according to M. Sakthivel, president, Aquaculture Foundation of India, Chennai. This Foundation is promoting the seaweed culture by assisting the stakeholders to get bank loans, government subsidy, imparting free technology training and marketing, Dr. Sakthivel told The Hindu here on Friday. “Since the bio-fertilizer extract from Kappaphycus seaweeds has growth-promoting hormones for plants, it is going to be a major source for bio-fertilizer production in India to facilitate organic agriculture. Bio fertilizers can be extracted from wet seaweed,” Dr. Sakthivel added. One million tonnes of seaweed could be produced in a year and around 10, 000 families could earn their daily bread on an average. About one thousand families are engaged in seaweed cultivation in the Palk Bay Island. Each family can earn a minimum of Rs. 500 to Rs. 1, 000 a day .
- African catfish posing threat to Indian fish species
The fast breeding African catfish Clarias gariepinus has emerged as a serious threat to native fish species in rivers and rivulets in Coimbatore with a real danger of local variety being wiped out. This banned variety of fish, which feeds on native fish and waste, is being illegally sold in the market. "We want to protect our indigenous fish, because in future they may become extinct. That's why government has banned it (African Catfish). Otherwise, the fish doesn't cause any harm to public, if it is properly cooked. So it is no problem. Some people, those are culturing it ignorantly, they are being warned and all that they have is being harvested. Further growth of this fish is banned," said Ravichandran, deputy director, Department Of Fisheries, Coimbatore Zone. Farmers are tempted to breed the fish as it breeds faster than the native species and is popular among the locals for being tasty and cheaper. The African catfish, commonly known as Thai Magur and Moi Fish in the state, was illegally introduced in West Bengal from Bangladesh two years ago .
- Bantaeng Exports Sea Cucumber to Hong Kong
Bantaeng regency in South Sulawesi is preparing its first sea cucumber export to Hong-Kong. This follows the regency’s succeess in exporting fish in the form of frozen surimi to Japan and kapok seeds to Korea. The export of 4.2 tons of sea cucumber with a value of more than Rp 3 billion will be carried out by UD Mamampang Jaya, a local company in partnership with companies from the Philippines and Malaysia. The sea cucumbers are obtained from areas around Bantaeng Regency, like Selayar, as well as several other provinces in Indonesia, including Papua .
- LTT Aquaculture Sdn Bhd to boost empurau aquaculture
LTT Aquaculture Sdn Bhd, a pioneer in the commercial breeding of empurau fish (Tor tambroides), will increase the export of Sarawak’s most highly priced freshwater fish. Managing director Bill Lu Thian Tack said the company now exported an average of 100 live empurau to several restaurants in Peninsular Malaysia. The company, which started culturing the fish four years ago in Asajaya farm in Samarahan Division, also supplies empurau (scientific name: Tor tambroides) to restaurants here. “The retail price for empurau (weighing 1kg-1.5kg) is RM600 per kg. For sizes more than 2kg, it is RM750 a kg. Empurau is an exotic fish and people who like the fish never bargain on the price,” Lu told StarBiz. With more than 10,000 adult empurau ready for the market, Lu said his target was to increase domestic sales between 200 and 300 fish a month, resulting in a monthly income of about RM300,000. LTT Acquaculture ventured into large-scale breeding of the empurau after Sarawak Agriculture Department, in collaboration with an Australian university, made a breakthrough five years ago to rear the fish in captivity. The company has invested about RM4mil in its 12ha Asajaya farm, which now breeds the empurau, dubbed the King of Sarawak rivers, in 64 special concrete ponds .
- Aquaculture improves lives of fisher folks in Catanduanes
Aquaculture projects introduced by local government units and enjoying all-out support from the provincial administration in this island province are proving successful in improving the lives of fisher folks. These were started by the provincial government with the establishment of small aquasilvi or “Mudcrabs in Mangroves” projects in the municipalities of Bagamanoc and Panganiban over six months ago, Ely Peña, head of the Provincial Agriculture Support Office (PASO) said here over the week. Just recently, according to Peña, one of the polyculture farms established under the project and manned by an association of fisher folks in these two towns yielded more than 75 kilograms of fully-grown mud crabs locally known as alimango, a delectable crustacean, during a test harvest. The fisher groups also culture tilapia and bangus in the same farms. Aquaculture projects are also booming in other parts of the province with the raising of groupers (lapu-lapu) in Barangay Palumbanes showing as the most successful when one of its cages yielded last week more than 50 fishes averaging 800 grams each .
- Boosting aquaculture in regional growth area
- High-Value Tawi-Tawi Grouper
Upper Pahut MPC is one of 36 cooperatives composed of former Moro National Liberation Front combatants in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu that are being assisted by USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program to engage in sustainable, high-value aquaculture. The GEM Program provided these cooperatives with hatchery-bred young—using hatchery fish like these helps to conserve stocks in the wild—as well as technical training and marketing assistance. These former combatants now earn higher incomes as they add their grouper harvests to the overall volume of high-value cultured or farmed seafood products being shipped out of Mindanao to Manila and to various Asian destinations. The GEM Program is implemented under the oversight of the Mindanao Development Authority .
- Half of fish pens in Dagupan are illegal
The Dagupan City government is poised to take legal action against owners of 310 of the 796 registered fish pens in the rivers of Dagupan City for their refusal to demolish and or renew their Aquaculture Lease Agreement (ALA). According to City Agriculture Officer Emma Molina, she gave her recommendation to City Administrator Alvin Fernandez, after the erring operators have refused to respond to her office’s series of notices. It will be recalled Molina appeared before the city council late last year and reported the failure of more than half of fish pen operators to renew their licenses but continue to operate. Molina suspects that the reluctance of fish pen owners to renew their ALA might be due a misinterpretation of an ordinance (No. 1768) enacted by the city council in February 2007 granting operators a 50 per cent discount in their ALA fees following a major decline in the market price of bangus from P80 to P46 per kilo. But while the ordinance was enacted during the term of then Mayor Benjamin Lim, it was not implemented immediately as it still lacked the implementing rules and regulations (IRR). It was only the new city administration of Mayor Alipio Fernandez Jr. that an IRR was finally adopted and the discount for the ALA fees was effected. Molina clarified that the discount provided for in that ordinance was good only for 2007 and not a permanent benefit as some operators might have assumed. She said her office made this clear to the operators in various notices and still many refused to renew their ALAs, hence her recommendation for the city government to take legal action against them .
- BFAR releases P11-M for Zamboanga Peninsula vs El Niño
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has allotted more than P11 million for region 9 to cushion the impact of the dry spell wrought by El Niño weather phenomenon upon the fishery sector in the area. In a joint Provincial Development Council (PDC), Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) and Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) meeting on Wednesday, BFAR National Director Malcom Sarmiento Jr. disclosed that the amount would be used to provide alternative livelihood projects to affected families in the fishery sector more particularly the small fishermen. Sarmiento said that out of the total amount of P11,003,750.00, Zamboanga del Norte would get P3.8 million, Zamboanga del Sur P1.8 million, Zamboanga Sibugay P2.5 million and Isabela City P0.9 million. A number of families who live on gathering and selling shellfish lost their income when the BFAR had imposed a ban on shellfish gathering from Murciellagos Bay along the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental, and Makilas Bay in Pagadian City due to red tide contamination. Sarmiento attributed the occurrence of red tide toxins to "the changing condition of climate." According to the BFAR chief the unpredictable pattern of weather may alter the migratory paths and spawning pattern of fishes. It may also destroy the corals .
- Perspectives for tuna aquaculture
The farming of tuna, especially the bluefin (Thunnus orientalis, T. maccoyii) is already in an advanced state in Japan and Australia. Numerous bluefin-tuna farms have been established in these two countries. Juveniles caught from the sea are grown in large cages in coastal areas until they reach marketable size. Similar tuna farms have been reported to be operating in Costa Rica (yellowfin), Panama (yellowfin), Hawaii (bigeye), Mexico (bigeye, bluefin), Spain (bluefin), Portugal (bluefin) and the Mediterranean Sea (bluefin). Pioneering work at Kinki University, Japan, and Achotines Laboratory in Panama, had been done to produce tuna larvae from the hatchery and grown to juveniles to be used for farming tuna. Aquaculture of tuna can also be explored in the Philippines because of our competitive advantage—abundant tuna juveniles in our waters and lower labor cost. This can result in the integration of our marine fishing industry with the aquaculture industry. Research funds should be provided to the academe and research institutions to establish the viability of tuna farming in the country since this enterprise will require large investments .
- BIMP-EAGA aquaculture conference underway
Fisheries sector delegates of Brunei -Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) kicked off a three-day conference at General Santos City, Philippines, that aims to promote and improve high-value aquaculture in the sub-region. The first-ever BIMP-EAGA Business Conference on High Value Aquaculture, it is a response from member governments’ directive to create a joint venture on fisheries in the sub-region, that aims to firm up immediate steps and generate involvement from all stakeholders. High-value aquaculture has been identified as one of the areas of collaboration by the BIMP-EAGA Fisheries Working Group along with tuna, sardines and seaweeds. The conference intends to increase and expand private enterprises on high-value aquaculture in BIMP-EAGA through the active promotion of joint ventures between EAGA members, investment and trading and export of high-value seafood to target markets. The conference will present trade and investment opportunities in the aquaculture sector from among the BIMP-EAGA countries. Best practices and recent breakthroughs on high-value aquaculture farming and marketing will also be presented. Among the topics that will be discussed are global market opportunities for high-value aquaculture, economic potentials vis-à-vis environment conservation of the Coral Triangle, as well as business potentials of the abalone industry, seaweeds and grouper   .
- A new aquaculture farm is being set up in Pilar in the province of Bataan
A top local official in Pilar has revealed that a one-billion-peso aquaculture farm project will soon be established in this town, now fast-becoming a center for economic and tourism activity in the province, according to Manila Bulletin. Under the initial plan, the company will export its fish products to various neighbouring countries, saying this will certainly generate not only income for the town but also thousands of new employment. In addition, Mayor Pizarro said the management of Jatropha is also planning to invest more as part of its expansion programme after its initial planting of the Jatropha for biodiesel has become successful in Barangay Liyan, this town, reports Manila Bulletin .
- BFAR to turn EV fishermen into marine farmers
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director for Eastern Visayas Juan Albaladejo exposes the new thrust of his office to turn ordinary fishermen in the region into seafood growers. “We are now encouraging our fishermen to take the big step forward to improve their livelihood rather than be stuck as common fishermen till the rest of their lives. More opportunities will be at hand for them if they try marine farming.” In an interview, Albaladejo said that he is inviting fishermen in the region to avail their new program and its livelihood components to improve their produce and income. BFAR new program includes the culturing of high valued seafood like abalone, blue crab, seaweed, and milkfish. For those who like to invest in milk fish (bangus) farming in the region, Albaladejo also said that their office is selling fingerlings at the very low price compared to that of commercial dealers. “It is true that there has been a noted decline in some of our high valued marine products due to over-fishing, poaching, and destruction of our fish sanctuaries, yet this doesn’t mean that there is no solution on this. By becoming sea farmers, our fishery business will be more profitable and exciting again.” Albaladejo said that fishermen in the region should take this opportunity as marine farming has yet to be fully realized in the country. “We want our region to be at the forefront of this since marine development in the country is not yet fully tapped despite its geological advantage. One example is our mari-culture park in San Juanico Strait, in Leyte where only ten percent of it was still used at present. We need our fishermen to shift and try new undertaking like this” .
- Ouroborus™ Freshwater System now under construction in Singapore
UK-based DIOBAS Ltd has announced progress for its OUROBORUS™ freshwater rearing system, a self contained re-circulating system for rearing saltwater species in freshwater, inland and any distance from the sea. Coupled with their patent applied for Ciren® EMF technology and vegetable based feed, the company said they are not surprised that the Far East and its insatiable consumer demand for quality fish have been the first to install their system. Further research is increasing the number of species that can be successfully reared in this system, which now includes Soon Hock, Arowana, Turbot, Bluefin Tuna and Giant Grouper. Research has also grown to include shellfish with promising results; growth rates have been increased for both lobster and crayfish. The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has recognised the potential and have set up meetings in Singapore with DIOBAS Directors in April 2010 to explore the installation of a series of production units for rearing both marine and freshwater species to satisfy the demand for fish .
- Mekong Delta: Aquatic Product festival to be held soon in Cân Tho
The first edition of the Aquatic products festival will be held in Cân Tho from April 24 to 27. Themed "Vietnamese Aquaculture: Potential for Development and Integration", it will be the festival of farmers, fishermen, scientists, managers and businessmen. A series of activities will be organized within the framework of this event with, among others, a symposium on the status of aquaculture in Vietnam or the management and sustainable development of aquaculture. Almost 500 stalls have already booked by more than 200 companies from 20 cities and provinces nationwide. An awards ceremony will promote people who have contributed greatly to the growth of this sector, and there will also be a Day of gastronomy. In 2010, the aquatic products sector of Vietnam has registered very positive signs, with an export value of 628 million dollars during the first 2 months of the year, an increase of 41% yoy  .
- US firms to support Vietnam catfish industry
As long as the details of the law have not been finalised, Viet Nam still has the chance to work with the US to make it fair for the Vietnamese industry. US-based seafood importer Mazzetta Company LLC and animal feed producer Proconco will help Vietnamese catfish farmers produce quality catfish for export to the US. Mazzetta would cooperate with a Vietnamese firm to train fish breeders to farm and process catfish in accordance with US standards, its chairman, Tom Mazzetta, said. Together with Proconco, it will also help farmers in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang set up a closed fish-farming process comprising feeding, farming, processing, and consumption. Proconco will undertake research and development to ensure the quality of fish feed . At a meeting with the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Foreign Affairs, the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, and local farmers in the Mekong province of An Giang last month, the three companies unveiled the "From Farm to Table" concept that underlies the co-operation programme. The programme will choose a Mekong province to be a pioneer in applying the integration concept including high quality feed, standardisation of farming activity, use of approved processing factory, and establishing product brands. The model will later be expanded across the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta. Once the new model succeeds, Mazzetta would increase the imports of Vietnamese tra and basa fish from the current 600 tonnes to 1,000 tonnes per month, the company said. During the meeting, the group also made recommendations on how Viet Nam could deal with the US Farm Bill .
- Asian imports devastating catfish industry in Texas and across the South
Paul Stoll moved from Arizona to the small Northeast Texas town of Blossom in 1999, attracted by reports of lucrative catfish farming and an insatiable regional market. Eleven years ago, market prices were good, demand was strong and foreign competition was not a big factor. "Unfortunately, the fish didn't work out like it was supposed to," Stoll said. He has been so whipsawed by costly feed prices, weak demand and cheap Asian fish that he keeps afloat only by doing part-time construction work and by operating two chicken houses whose broilers he sells to Pilgrim's Pride. Chinese and Vietnamese cousins of the channel catfish -- sold here as pangasius, basa, swai and tra -- have combined with the economic downturn to devastate the U.S. industry. Catfish and pangasius imports in January soared 49 percent from the year before. Helped by a highly competitive price, the value of Chinese catfish imports has increased from $203,000 in 2000 to $52.7 million in 2008, before declining to $40.7 million last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Vietnam's sales of pangasius similarly exploded, hitting $121 million last year from $1.15 million in 1998. The U.S. industry alleges that the Chinese are heavily subsidizing their aquaculture activities and exporting catfish to the American market at prices below production cost. It accuses Vietnam of using unsound practices that will environmentally hurt the country's Mekong Delta. Moreover, evidence indicates that both countries do not always adequately police use of antibiotics banned in the U.S. Domestic producers have demanded more inspections of imported fish. While some frozen-fish shipments from China and Vietnam are still being rejected, even Alabama's state lab, which tests to a far lower tolerance than federal inspectors, says it is discovering fewer cases of fish contaminated by broad-spectrum veterinary antibiotics, known as fluoroquinolones. "We're not finding real high levels like we were finding initially," said Lance Hester, director of the department that oversees the Alabama lab. In 2005, 50 percent of Vietnamese fish tested positive for the banned antibiotics, Hester added. The Catfish Institute, an Alabama-based industry group, is fighting foreign competitors by getting the country of origin listed on signs and menus of restaurants in most major producing states. Meanwhile, mandatory labeling of imported, farm-raised catfish is not always followed in supermarkets. The Vietnamese fish sells at such steep discounts despite anti-dumping duties of up to 63.9 percent for several exporters, and as high as 80 percent for at least one firm. Those penalty rates were imposed following a 2002 dumping complaint filed by Catfish Farmers of America. Despite high duties, imports surged 377 percent between 2005 and 2008, according to Informa Economics, a research firm .
- GLOBAL GAP : NTACO, first company to be certified
- HSBC, WWF take joint action against climate change
HSBC Bank in Vietnam and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) jointly organised various field trips for the banks staff to the Mekong delta region in March to see with their own eyes climate change impacts on peoples life. The field trips, followed by a series of climate change workshops in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City , are part of the Climate Camp -- HSBC and WWF take action on Climate Change Programme. The programme was kicked off in January in order to raise HSBCs employees awareness about climate change impacts and environmental protection. They visited some WWFs projects such as a clam farm, the Rang Dong aquaculture cooperative, and a model of raising tra fish in brackish water in order to learn production methods that are sustainable and environmentally friendly .
- US basa market plan unveiled
Leading US importers of premium-frozen seafood Mazzetta and Amanda will implement a co-operation programme with Vietnam-based animal feed manufacturer Proconco to boost exports of basa fish to the US market. At a meeting with the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Foreign Affairs, the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, and local farmers in the Mekong province of An Giang last month, the three companies unveiled the "From Farm to Table" concept that underlies the co-operation programme. The programme will choose a Mekong province to be a pioneer in applying the integration concept including high quality feed, standardisation of farming activity, use of approved processing factory, and establishing product brands. The model will later be expanded across the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta. Proconco will invest in researching and developing the model to ensure the quality of fish feed. It will also support farmers with farming and processing technologies to meet the requirements of customers in North America. Once the new model succeeds, Mazzetta would increase the imports of Vietnamese tra and basa fish from the current 600 tonnes to 1,000 tonnes per month, the company said. During the meeting, the group also made recommendations on how Viet Nam could deal with the US Farm Bill. According to the group, Farm Bill is already in place but the details of the law have not yet been determined. The details of this law will regulate the requirements tra and basa farming in Viet Nam will have to meet to be able to export to the US market .
- Catfish quality tests tightened to export hygiene standards
Viet Nam’s tra and basa catfish must be certified for hygiene and food safety in order to be able to be exported, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s new circular that has been effective since Monday. The two certificates will be issued by testing centres that are under the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD), the circular noted. "Some Vietnamese seafood companies had to return shipments from overseas markets because they failed to meet hygiene and food safety standards," said deputy head of Nafiquad, Nguyen Nhu Tiep. "This move is to ensure the prestige of tra and basa, which is one of Viet Nam’s key export items, in the world market rather than laying barriers for enterprises," Tiep noted. Bui Khuong Thoi, chief representatives from Binca Seafoods Viet Nam, a seafood distributor in Europe, emphasised that stricter seafood standards are important to European customers because they wanted to know about the product’s origin .
- Mekong to boost shrimp exports
The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Soc Trang plans to become one of the worlds' major shrimp producers by meeting the highest standards for sustainability and traceability of products. Officials made the statement in anticipation of a sustainability conference to be held in conjunction with the European Seafood Exposition 2010 in Brussels on April 28. A mission from Soc Trang Province led by Tran Thanh Nghiep, deputy chairman of Soc Trang Province People's Committee, has left for the Brussels conference. Last month, Soc Trang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the My Thanh Shrimp Farmers Association decided to initiate a major change in the province's shrimp industry. The move was done based on the level of expectation of international buyers and the urgency of environmental change in farming practices. To ensure the success of global integration, they outsourced the new programme to Qualasa Pte Ltd to manage this change. As a shrimp feed producer, Qualasa will be in charge of implementing a contracted farming system to secure incomes for farmers and ensure capacity building and quality for international buyers. Qualasa is establishing strategic partnerships with leading feed suppliers and water and waste water treatment solution providers. During the second step, domestication of the black tiger species will be launched to help contracted farmers. One of Europe's leading water and waste water solution providers has met both Soc Trang's authorities and farmers and are willing to work closely to ensure the sustainability of their farms are upheld. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has joined the initiative to ensure controlled implementation of the quality assurance management. The joint-project is developed with IMO's three-step certification system. This principle will allow farmers to implement required standards progressively but efficiently with continuous technical support from the project management team. Such work will lead to AquaGAP certification as the first official standard. Then, according to market demand, other quality standards such as ASC, ACC, GLOBALGAP will be implemented later. Backed by world-renowned traceability and sustainability technology, Soc Trang now aims to work with other certification organisations and NGOs to help monitor and provide transparency and value-chain integrity .
- Taiwan aquaculture facing stiff competition from China
Tilapia growers in Liuchia in southern Taiwan's Tainan County threw a banquet Sunday to promote their product in the domestic market amid falling exports and strong competition from China. With more and more Taiwan's tilapia farmers relocating their investments to China, the island's tilapia business has seen a steep decline in exports, while China's exports of the fish have jumped. In an effort to mitigate the effects of weakening exports, local tilapia farmers are giving more attention to the domestic market. However, an increase in local supply has dragged down domestic prices by 29 percent to 34 percent. About 90 percent of Taiwan's tilapia species are being grown in China as the industry is moving more and more of its capital there. In addition, Taiwan investors have taken Taiwan's advanced breeding technologies to China, which is now producing a better quality product than Taiwan. In the next round of high-level cross-strait negotiations scheduled for the middle of this year, Taiwan will seek to include protective measures in relevant agreements to protect the local agriculture sector from the effects of a wider market opening, according to the Council of Agriculture (COA) .
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