Vietnam and WWF in co-strategy for pangasius

Vietnam needs to cooperate for sustainable tra fish farming

VietNamNet Bridge – After the World Wildlife Fund WWF put Vietnamese tra fish onto the red list, and then removed it from the list, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and the Vietnam Fisheries Society (VINAFIS) have signed a memorandum of cooperation with WWF, in order to make Vietnamese tra fish into a farming product of sustainable development.

In mid April, a delegation of Vietnamese officials and businessmen from the Directorate of Fisheries, VASEP and VINAFIS arrived in Geneva, Switzerland, to have a working session with WWF on the building up of a 5-year cooperation program and discussing the implementation of the signed memorandum of cooperation.

Deputy General Director of the Directorate of Fisheries, Pham Anh Tuan, talked with Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon on the outcome of the trip.

Could you please tell us the outcome of the working session with WWF?

The working session focused on the cooperation for the tra fish sustainable farming, which includes the introduction of WWF initiated ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) program, i.e, labeling and certifying cultivated aquatic products in accordance with ASC standards.

We have reached an agreement that ASC standards will be translated into Vietnamese, while we will organize conferences to introduce ASC standards, and bring European customers to Vietnamese companies. Also, we will also poll the producer’s community to find out if they want to use ASC certificates in order to carry out training courses. The program will be supported by WWF.

Do you know that many experts believe that it is not necessary to apply ASC standards while Vietnamese enterprises are applying other standards, like Global Gap or SQF?

There are many standards now being applied in the world. When we export products to some countries, we should follow the standards set by the countries. In principle, no one imposes any standards on anything.

If Vietnam does not use ASC standards, will Vietnamese tra fish put onto the red list again?

In general, people misunderstand the certification system. In the Vietnamese tra fish case, we can see that at first, WWF gave an unreasonable assessment about Vietnam’s tra fish. However, later, after they found out that this was an unreasonable conclusion. They decided to remove Vietnam’s tra fish from the red list, but they have not put Vietnamese tra fish onto the green list, but onto the white list instead.

The green list includes the products that the organization encourages people to use. The products of the green list not only need to have the high food hygiene but also need to be associated with social welfare and do not harm the environment. We can understand that the higher requirements are set for the products of the green list. However, as you know, there always are the buyers who still use products without any certificates.

In March 2011, some television channels in European countries such as Germany and Sweden, in cooperation with WWF in the countries, provided false information which spoke ill of Vietnamese tra fish. What should we do to deal with the problem?

We cannot prohibit them to say this and not to say that, because they have freedom in communications.

We should understand that WWF is a prestigious organization. While its purposes are good, and if we follow its standards, it will be good for us. Why not to cooperate then?

I think that in order to prevent foreign press agencies to provide false information about Vietnamese tra fish, we need to intensify our communication. We need to introduce to the world’s consumers our products and explain the way of farming, so that foreigners better understand us.

Out latest trip was also a part of the communication campaign, which shows that Vietnam respects the signed commitments. Besides ASC, we also had a working session with Global Gap. In general, we need to strive to cooperate instead of making arguments. We plan to go to Belgium in early May in order to talk about Vietnamese tra fish.

Article from Vietnamnet

Photo © Loni Hensler