If exports for the second half remain as strong as the first— fish and fishery exports for the year could touch as high US$1.18 billion, just shy of the total exports for 2014 of US$1.21 billion.
Meanwhile, the Association is urging its members to get in compliance with the country’s laws governing food safety and hygiene or risk being shut out of the lucrative rebounding Japanese market.
According to a newly issued Decree 55, which became effective July 1, commercial fisheries must comply with several conditions as spelled out in the statute, said Nguyen Hoai Nam, deputy general secretary of the Association.
These are the minimum standards that the government deems essential to ensure fishery products entering commerce are safe for human consumption and will meet the rigid requirements of both the Vietnamese and Japanese market, among others.
Most notably fisheries must implement the new regulations and technical standards on food safety as stated and be certified by the pertinent government authorities for their local province as having complied.
The certification is designed to meet the requirements of markets like the US, EU, China and Republic of Korea, which require the Vietnam government to furnish a list of companies eligible to export to it, said Le Anh Ngoc.
Mr Ngoc, who is the deputy head of quality assurance at the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, said the Japanese market differs in the sense that it does not require the list but alternatively directly inspects all consignments of fish and fishery products at port of entry.
In the past, far too many Vietnamese shipments of fish and fishery products did not pass muster with Japanese inspectors for excessive levels of antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, enrofloxacine, and sulfadiazine.
The new Decree 55 specifically targets rectifying this problem, noted Mr Ngoc.
In 2016, the total fish and fishery imports for the globe totalled US$109.6 billion with Japan listed as the second largest importer at US$10.8 billion behind the American market at US$16.4 billion, according to the best estimates available.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese fish and fishery exporters shipped approximately US$1 billion of products to the Japanese market, which shows that there is a massive potential market in Japan for the segment.
Or stated another way, the Vietnam fish and fishery segment could grow by US$9 billion or nine-fold in just the Japanese market alone— if it were the sole foreign supplier, a monumental potential for growth.