Vietnamese Tra Fish Faces Nasty Trick, Once Again

The false information released at “Pangasius Lie” by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the program broadcasted on German television one month ago, has made the demand for tra fish in the north of the Europe decrease dramatically.
At the 30 minute program, a fisheries expert of WWF, Catherine Zucco, said “tra fish are dangerous because they are being farmed on dirty waters.”

Right after the program was broadcasted, a retail group has stopped providing tra fish products on its supermarket chain in Denmark and Norway. Metrol has also stopped selling tra fish in Germany. The tra fish consumption in the north of the Europe has been decreasing sharply over the past several weeks, especially in Germany.

This is not for the first time WWF provided wrong information about Vietnam’s tra farming industry. In November 2010, WWF added Vietnamese tra fish into the red list – the list of products it advises people not to use. The list was seen in the consumer guideline handbook distributed in six EU countries, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Norway and Denmark.

The wrong information released by WWF does not truly reflect the tra fish farming industry in Vietnam. A lot of Vietnamese enterprises have been successfully applying the traceability system with modern technology, which allows to position with radio frequency. Twenty Vietnamese companies and 40 tra fish farming areas have got the Global GAP certificates granted by the EU.

After the working session between WWF’s and Vietnamese representatives in December 2010,  the red list was released, WWF has removed Vietnamese tra fish from the red list. WWF has also signed with the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), an agreement on long term cooperation to help tra fish get the certificate of global sustainable development.

However, while the two sides are carrying out the active cooperation, WWF has, once again, spoken ill of Vietnamese tra fish on German television.

Catherine Zucco explained that the program was a part of the preparation for the dialogue on aquaculture to be chaired by WWF, which aims to help Vietnamese companies to obtain ASC certificates. However, the information released by her was completely fabricated.

According to VASEP, though Vietnamese tra fish consumption in the European market has been badly affected by the information released by WWF, “a clean hand wants no washing”. Tra fish is one of the important freshwater fish species which provides food with high nutrition, safety and low cost to consumers around the globe.

Vietnam now provides more than 95 percent of commercial tra fish to the world market, estimated at 1.5 million tons per annum.

Recently, 53 more Vietnamese companies have successfully approached the European market, thus raising the total number of export companies which can meet the strict requirements set by the market to 379.

The strictest standards are being applied in Vietnam’s catfish farming. Catfish farms are following necessary procedures to obtain the certificates from Global GAP, ASC, the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) and Friends of the Sea and Naturland.

Vietnamese tra fish also faced unfair treatment. In 2010, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) imposed the anti-dumping duties of 130 percent on Vietnamese tra fish. However, DOC, in its final decision, decided the duty rates which are much lower than the previous rates, while many Vietnamese enterprises can enjoy the zero tax rate.

The US Department of Agriculture USDA, in the implementation of the Farm Bill 2008, plans to put tra fish under the regular control mechanism by USDA instead of the periodic control by FDA (Food and Drug Administration). However, USDA’s plan has been facing strong opposition from politicians and US agencies.

In March 2011, Senator John McCain and five other senators sent a letter persuading US senators to cancel a clause in the Farm Bill 2008 which aims to restrict the tra fish imports from Vietnam.


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