Academic journal article Journal of Business Administration

Prospects for Vietnam's Fisheries Resources

Academic journal article Journal of Business Administration

Prospects for Vietnam's Fisheries Resources

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Vietnam is by virtue of its geography a coastal state.(1) As such, Vietnam has been, and will continue to be, highly dependent upon its marine resources, especially its fisheries. This chapter provides an overview of the current status of Vietnam's fisheries along with a brief description of some of the problems which this resource faces, and outlines some of the directions and constraints for future fisheries development. For current purposes, unless otherwise differentiated, fisheries resources are taken to include not only fish but also aquatic invertebrates such as shrimp, cuttlefish, oysters and mussels, etc.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FISH TO VIETNAM

As in most countries with substantial fisheries resources, the significance of that resource to Vietnam is multifaceted, with fish being harvested for both domestic and foreign export purposes. The importance of fish to Vietnam is illustrated by domestic fish consumption and diet. On the whole, it can be said that the nutritional status of the Vietnamese people is very poor.(2) With regard to protein consumption, a common indicator of overall nutritional status, the average Vietnamese consumes approximately 40 grams of protein per day.(3) To put this in perspective, this average per capita protein consumption rate is the second lowest in Asia - Bangladesh being the only country with a lower rate - and is severe enough that for a large proportion of the Vietnamese population, "there is a high prevalence of protein energy malnutrition."(4) Of the total protein in the average Vietnamese diet, approximately 8% is derived directly from fish. However, if we consider its contribution relative to total animal protein consumed, fish directly accounts for almost 60% of the total and indirectly accounts for even more when one considers that fish products are also used as an important source of protein in Vietnamese livestock feed.(5)

In addition to meeting domestic nutritional needs, fisheries products(6) are seen by the Vietnamese government as important export commodities, which in 1990 generated approximately $US 205 million in foreign sales.(7) By 1995, the government of Vietnam hopes to increase these sales to $US 300 million.(8)

Finally, Vietnam's fishing industry, in both its marine capture fishery and aquaculture aspects, directly employs approximately 600,000 people, nearly 1% of Vietnam's population, while countless others are employed in related support industries such as boat building and repair and the manufacture of fishing gear.(9)

THE CURRENT STATE OF VIETNAMESE FISHERIES

Fisheries exploitation in Vietnam can be broadly divided into two areas of activity: marine capture fisheries and aquaculture, where "aquaculture" in Vietnam officially includes everything from the intensive stocking, rearing and harvesting of fish in closed systems, to freshwater capture fisheries from both stocked and unstocked waters.

Marine Capture Fisheries

During the early 1990's, total annual production from marine capture fisheries stood at approximately 700,000 tonnes per year. This period of relative production stability was, however, preceded by almost a decade of steady production increases from the unusually low harvest levels, in the 400,000 tonne per year range, that were experienced in the late 1970's and early 1980's.(10) The Vietnamese currently commercially harvest approximately 30 marine species including algae, lobster, crab, cuttlefish, oyster, and abalone in addition to a variety of shrimp and fin fish species.

Although Vietnam's marine fishery is diverse and overall production has remained relatively stable in recent years, some very serious problems exist in its structure and in some of its practices which, in combination, may threaten its long-term sustainability. There seems to be consensus among both Vietnamese and foreign experts that one of the most significant problems facing the marine fishery is that almost 90% of its total annual production is derived from coastal waters less than 30 metres deep. …

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