Fishery and aquaculture in Vietnam - statistics & facts
With a coastline of over three thousand kilometers and an extensive system of inland waterways, Vietnam has a rich biodiversity of tropical marine species. It is now among the leading producers of various seafood products globally. Fishery and aquaculture products have also contributed significantly to the export-oriented economy of Vietnam, being one of its most valuable export items.
Vietnam’s main fishery and aquaculture products
As the demand for Vietnamese seafood has been growing year on year, so too has the production volume of these products. In 2021, Vietnam exported around nine billion U.S. dollars worth of fishery and aquaculture products, with shrimp exports being the largest contributor to the total export value of this sector. While fishery and aquaculture both play crucial roles in the output of aquatic products in Vietnam, most of the exported and consumed shrimp came from aquaculture farms. Additionally, shrimp farming accounted for the country's largest area of inland aquaculture due to the economic benefit it brings to farmers. The U.S, South Korea, and Japan were the biggest buyers of Vietnamese shrimp, be it frozen or processed.
Apart from shrimp, Vietnam is also among the leading exporters and producers of several fish species, including catfish and pangasius. The country earned over 1.2 billion U.S. dollars from catfish exports in 2021, mostly through trade with the U.S, China, and Mexico. Comparably, pangasius exports have brought Vietnam around 200 million U.S. dollars per month. Other popular seafood exports from Vietnam include clams, tuna, squid, and octopus.
Outlook of the fishery and aquaculture sector in Vietnam
Agriculture, forestry, and fishery are no longer the biggest sectors of employment in the Vietnamese economy due to the growing importance of the industry and service sectors. That being said, the production volume and economic value contributed by this sector continue to grow, thanks to improvements in agricultural efficiency. Looking at Vietnamese aquaculture, a hectare of farming water surface in 2021 yielded more than twice as much value as in 2010.
At the same time, the climate challenges faced by the south of Vietnam have been the primary driver for many farmers to switch from farming rice to seafood, especially shrimp farming. Some parts of the Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s largest rice-producing hub, have recorded increased levels of salination, making rice growing no longer possible. Shrimp farming was introduced and assisted by the government as an alternative for affected farmers, and it has positively changed many people's lives in this area. However, there are several environmental concerns associated with farming shrimps, such as the destruction of mangrove forests for aquaculture ponds, the risks of water pollution, and the acceleration of salination. As a result, sustainable farming is the next big challenge for Vietnam’s aquaculture sector.
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