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Vietnam Modernizing Its Tuna Fleet Vietnam, September 6, 12

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has ordered the Directorate of Fisheries to work with three central provinces to speed up its program to modernize their tuna fishing boat fleets and re-organize fishing to improve the value chain.

The Directorate is working on a project to build 30 modern boats for tuna fishermen in Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa, the country’s main tuna fishing provinces.

The boats, to cost a total of VND280 billion (USD 13.33 million), will be built by 2015.

The beneficiaries can choose to get a 16-20 percent subsidy for the boat and equipment or an interest-free loan worth 70-80 percent of the boat’s cost.

The boats will be made of steel or composite materials and be equipped with modern paraphernalia, including high-power engines, high-quality refrigeration systems and modern communication equipment.

The directorate wants tuna fishing boats to work together, be equipped with communications facilities, and be fully apprised about fishing grounds by 2020.

Also by that time, it hopes 80 percent of all new tuna boats will be built in metal or new materials, and post-catch losses will be less than 10 percent.

Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa have a total of 2,426 tuna fishing boats, according to the directorate, with Binh Dinh having 1,556 of them.

Mostly with wooden hulls, they have communications equipment but lack good refrigeration systems, which means the quality of the fish deteriorates by the time they reach shore.

To meet export quality, the fish must be preserved at minus 60 degrees Celsius, but most boats can only manage a maximum of minus 45 degrees, according to tuna exporters.

The tuna fishing season lasts from November to September.

Binh Dinh became the country’s leading province, with its fishermen catching 6,958 tons of tuna by August-end, two times the catch in the same period last year, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Most of the boats can bring back up to three tons per trip, earning a profit of more than VND100 million (USD 4,700).

The quantity of tuna caught off Binh Dinh has increased significantly this year because the fishermen have started to use a new method of fishing – they turn on very bright lamps to attract the tuna and then use fishing hooks or nets to catch them.

Vietnamese fishing grounds yield more than 1.1 million tons a year, according to the ministry. The skipjack tuna accounts for more than 600,000 tons of this though Vietnamese fishermen mostly catch the yellowfin and bigeye tuna.

In the first half of the year, they had already caught 11,703 tons of tuna, or nearly equal to last year’s total catch.

By July-end, tuna exports had been worth nearly USD 312 million, up 42.3 percent year-on-year, the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers said.

The country’s tuna is shipped to 77 countries and territories, with the US, Japan and the EU being the biggest buyers.