Severe drought hits Vietnamese fish farms

SEVERE drought conditions are having a big impact on some fish farms in Vietnam, the country’s media is reporting.
Thousands of acres of prime fish farming areas have been lost due to the lack of rain, which has led to salt water intrusion.
Vietnam is a major exporter of farmed fish and shellfish to both the United States and Europe, including the UK.
More than 11,000 hectares have been lost in Ca Mau and Kien Giang provinces alone, said Nguyen Do Anh Tuan of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), and conditions show no sign of improving any time soon.
According to VietnamBridge, the English online newspaper, the Ministry has reported that the Ca Mau area has been the most badly affected, with more than 70 per cent of its farming area damaged, followed by Tra Vinh and Ben Tre provinces, with over 30 per cent of their areas destroyed.
The drought has mainly affected the Mekong Delta region and is having an impact on the country generally.
Eight out of the 13 provinces in the region have declared a state of disaster due to the prolonged dry spell.
Almost the entire planning area for brackish water shrimp has been hampered by the salinity brought about by the drought, especially farming areas downstream of the Hau River, in Ben Tre, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh and Kien Giang provinces.
The region’s aquaculture development plan appears to be in imminent danger of coming apart at the seams, said Tuan.
But despite the shortage of usable water, total production of fish (including shrimp and other crustaceans) during March exceeded 441,000 tonnes, a 2.3 per cent increase on the same period last year.
Additionally, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) reports fish exports in the first quarter jumped nearly nine per cent over last year’s corresponding three-month period to US $1.4 billion.
According to VASEP, shrimp was the main export driver for aquaculture during the first quarter of the year, which benefited from an increase in sales prices ranging four to five per cent over last year.
‘The drought, oddly enough, caused a reduction in supplies that in turn actually caused the sales price to bump up in the first quarter,’ said Tuan.