The chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has said that hygiene standards and product quality will be crucial in Vietnam’s seafood export activities in 2006.

Ho Quoc Luc told the Thai News Service that food hygiene and safety barriers to export are becoming increasingly stringent and, in order for seafood export to continue to grow, improvements to hygiene must be undertaken.

Currently, 175 seafood companies are permitted to export to the European Union, 295 to the Republic of Korea and 300 seafood enterprises have applied the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system (HACCP), and are therefore eligible to export to the US market. The Ministry of Fisheries has prioritised increasing exports to Japan, aiming to gain a 30% market share by 2010.

Minister of Fisheries, Ta Quang Ngoc, said the sector aims to increase exports by 5.66%, reaching a total value of US$2.8bn in export turnover in 2006, with an exploitation and rearing output of 3.44m tonnes, the Thai News Service reported.

To achieve continued growth, the VASEP chairman suggested, the sector should build distribution networks overseas and improve food hygiene and safety.

The Fisheries Ministry will help enterprises improve production conditions and ensure the sector’s standards of food hygiene and safety is high, the report stated. Moreover, the ministry will examine antibiotic residue in seafood exports, especially those shipped to the European and North American markets.