Data loading...

Creating ONE Trademark Brand For Vietnamese Tuna

Even though Vietnam began to develop its tuna fishing industry more than a decade ago, it has not yet formed a national tuna association or a trademark for its tuna. Without branding, the export value of Vietnamese tuna will never reach its full potential.
Tuna fishing, which began in Vietnam 15 years ago, has brought increasing export earnings to the nation while helping to reduce poverty amongst fishermen in the south-central region, especially in Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces. Local tuna fishing associations have been established in the three provinces and they have linked up fishermen, businesses and managers to overcome difficulties for mutual benefit.

However, experts suggest that a Vietnam Tuna Fishing Association be established to build up the Vietnamese tuna brand and promote sustainable development in the future.
National organization a must
Bien Minh Tam, the deputy director of the Phu Yen provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, has said that the establishment of such an association is inevitable.

“This organization will have full legal status and connect members across the country with each other to share both benefits and risks,” says Mr. Tam.

Tuna is subject to the international fisheries agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Any shoal of tuna that travels through Vietnamese waters is under the management of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council that grants fishing and export quotas to any country in the region. If Vietnam does not join this organization, its tuna exports will face international trade barriers.

Mr. Tam says that the Phu Yen Tuna Association will work with its partners in Binh Dinh and Khanh Hoa provinces to establish the Vietnam Tuna Association and join the regional council.

According to him, local tuna fishing associations should help fishermen update their equipment, establish professional off-shore fishing fleets, fish for tuna in a sustainable way and expand international relations to promote trade.

Currently, Vietnam has more than 1,500 tuna fishing vessels, mostly in Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces, but only 50 of total vessels are owned by businesses.

Vietnamese tuna is mostly exported to many countries around the world, with Western Europe, the United States of America and Japan taking the bulk. Despite the global financial crunch in 2008, tuna exports fetched more than US$188 million, up 25 percent against 2007.

Thanks to good weather conditions early this year, fishermen in Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa increased their catches and the fish was sold at higher prices than last year. Premier tuna cost VND140,000/kg in Khanh Hoa, VND115,000 in Binh Dinh and VND90,000 in Phu Yen.
Looking towards sustainable development
Phan Thuan, a local fisherman, who has caught tuna for decades in Phu Yen province, says that Phu Yen was the first province to develop tuna fishing. If the weather is fine, fishermen can set out to sea five times a year, with each trip costing them between VND80-90 million on average or up to VND110 million depending on fluctuations in diesel prices. Each voyage lasts between 20 and 30 days and the fish is preserved in ice and ice water. The quality is then evaluated by the purchasers (businesses) mostly by sight.

2008 was a difficult year for fishermen. Due to rising fuel costs and the consumer price index, many fishermen made a loss and some even gave up fishing and started new careers.

Nguyen Thanh Son, the owner of the Thanh Son Company in Tuy Hoa City, Phu Yen province, says that before the provincial tuna fishing association was established, there had been no links between the fishermen, buyers and processors. Fishermen said that the buyers had cornered the market, while the buyers complained that each voyage lasted too long and the fishermen did not pay enough attention to the quality of the tuna for export.

Meanwhile, deputy director Tam points out the fact that Vietnam has not yet set any quality standards for tuna.

“Fishermen and businesses should work close together if they want to sell tuna at higher prices and purchase quality fish for export,” says Mr. Tam. “In the long run, we should set quality standards for tuna to ensure our economic interests and promote the sustainable development of tuna fishing in the future.”