Three weeks ago, Spanish commercial television channel Cuatro broadcast incorrect and defamatory information on tra fish bred in the Cuu Long (Mekong) River, said VASEP General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe.
According to the Cuatro report, tra fish is being raised in unclean cages and fed with non-industrialised feed like dead fish and other food waste. The report went on to charge that this was the reason for low prices of Vietnamese tra fish. Five days later, the station continued to broadcast wrong information about the breeding of tra fish in the country, VASEP said.
After receiving information about the Cuatro report, VASEP sent a letter to the local media, rejecting it in its entirety, stressing that Vietnam’s tra fish production was hygienic and safe to consume.
Hoe said that demand for Vietnamese tra fish had declined earlier following damaging media reports.
In 2016, the price of tra fish in the European Union market kept falling and damaged Vietnam’s tra fish export value, despite the country’s export volume almost matching that of the previous year.
In some cases, a lot of European sellers mixed tra fish fillet with other products to increase their selling prices, Hòe said.
Such factors would likely have a negative impact on Vietnam’s tra fish exports in 2017 because “we are living in the age of internet and social networks, which are powerful in spreading the news,” he added.
According to the VASEP, the tra fish industry in Vietnam has improved its production process and quality management. It has also improved its management of environmental impacts as well as ensuring clear origins of seafood material, especially in the supply chain comprising breed suppliers, feed factories, fish farms and processing factories. The final products are stored in modern freezing warehouses before being exported to international markets.
In addition, many fish farms have acquired international certification for good raising practices including Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and GlobalGap. In order to obtain these recognitions, the fish farms have to be built and operate strictly on criteria of quality, origin traceability and social responsibility.
These facts are strong, reliable evidence of the safety and sustainability of Vietnamese tra fish production, Hoe said.
Several enterprises have said that the Government and concerned agencies need to respond immediately to the spread of wrong information that is hurting the image of Vietnamese tra fish.
Nguyen Ngo Vi Tam, Director General of Vinh Hoan Corporation, one of the largest tra fish exporters in Vietnam, said Vietnamese tra fish had become popular in the world and was well received in many markets.
However, the image of Vietnamese tra fish was not good in some places in terms of food safety and breeding methods. It is not just in Spain, the smearing of Vietnamese tra fish products had happened in about 10 countries, including Australia, Italy, Germany and France, he added.