Scots MEP welcomes lessons learned on Vietnam aquaculture visit

Having previously raised concerns over standards in the Vietnamese fish farming sector, Struan Stevenson MEP, Senior Vice President of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, has now acknowledged that EU consumers and aquaculture businesses have little to fear from growing imports.

With imports of Vietnam’s pangasius fish reaching 230,000 tonnes in 2010, Mr Stevenson had raised concerns over standards of hygiene, welfare, feed and fish health at many of the 1600 fish farms in the country’s Mekong Delta.

However, following a visit to the region, Mr Stevenson said that his own attitude to Vietnamese farmed fish imports has changed for the better. He also concluded that increasing demand for these fish presents a huge opportunity for European businesses ready to take part in an exciting growth market.

Returning from his trip to Vietnam, Struan Stevenson MEP commented:

“Until recently, I was an arch critic of panga fish production, but having seen production methods first-hand and learned more about this highly regulated market, I am ready to admit that my previous comments were misplaced.

“Only the biggest, most efficient pangasius farms in the Mekong Delta export to Europe. These facilities get inspected and approved by the European Commission, and are regularly audited by major supermarket buyers like ASDA, Tesco, and Carrefour, so that EU consumers have no need to worry about the quality of the food on their tables.

“Far from finding a dirty, unhygienic and polluted business, I discovered a dynamic new industry, meeting world-class welfare and hygiene standards and producing a quality product under first-rate conditions. It also provides secure jobs, social security benefits and pension provisions for millions of desperately poor people in the Mekong Delta.”

Struan Stevenson also sought to allay fears that exports of cheaply-produced pangasius would disadvantage EU producers, adding:

“Our expanding Scottish aquaculture sector is mostly employed in farming oily salmon and trout, high in Omega-3 fatty acids, whereas panga fish are white-fleshed – similar to cod or haddock and with few bones.

“The EU has benefited from the rapid expansion of fish farming in Vietnam, by exporting expertise together with processing and farming equipment. Hopefully our businesses will continue to reap benefits from this exciting market in the future.”

Ends

For further information, please contact Peter Smyth at Indigo PR on 0131 554 1146.

Notes to editors:

1. Struan Stevenson is a Conservative Euro MP for Scotland and Senior Vice President of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee.

2. He visited Vietnam from 13 to 23 May at the invitation of the Vietnamese Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). In addition, he met Vietnamese Fisheries Minister Vu Van Tam and Vice Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Ms Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu, in Hanoi.

Source: VASEP

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