Vietnam, with a coastline of over 3,260 kilometers (km) and more than 3,000 islands and islets scattered offshore, plus up to 2,860 rivers and estuaries, has been geographically endowed with ideal conditions for the thriving fishery sector which currently exists.

Great potential of fishery sector in Vietnam is embedded in water bodies of 1.700.000 ha in which 811.700 ha freshwater, 635.400 ha brackish waters and 125.700 ha coves and 300.000 - 400.000 ha wetland areas might be employed for aquaculture development.

The Mekong River Delta in the south and the Red River Delta in the north have been used for wild catch fishing as well as extensive fish farming.

Shrimp and pangasius mostly farmed in the Mekong River Delta, in which, shrimp farmes located in coastal provinces such as Tra Vinh, Bac Lieu, Soc Trang, Ca Mau, Kien Giang, Ben Tre..

Pangasius farming is developing in many provinces in Mekong River Delta such as Can Tho, Vinh Long, Tien Giang, An Giang, Dong Thap, Soc Trang, Hau Giang, Tra Vinh....

Production in the fishery sector grew at an average rate of 7.05% from 1991 to 2000, and 10% from 2001 to now. The country produces annually over 6 million MT of fish, in which its landings reached 2.7 million MT and aquaculture reached 3.3 million MT. In 2015, total fisheries production reached 6.56 million MT, including 3.03 million tons from catching and 3.53 million tons from aquaculture.

Breakthroughs made in marine resource management

Vietnam has built a system of policies and laws on seas and islands during the 10-year implementation of the Maritime Strategy.

The system covers laws in service of integrated management and laws and planning schemes for coastal areas and sectors.

With this legal foundation, Vietnam has made breakthroughs in natural resource exploitation and marine environment conservation, and sped up the building and implementation of coastal development projects, resulting in socio-economic changes in the coastal regions.

On March 6, 2009, the Government issued Decree No. 25/2009/ND-CP on the integrated management of natural resources and marine environment protection, the first legal document in this regard.

Between 2007 and now, the Government, the Prime Minister and ministries and agencies have also issued documents encouraging investments in coastal and island economic zones.

Policies have provided support for farmers, residents in coastal and island areas, and those working at sea.

Policies that foster sea-based economic development with the protection of national sovereignty  and encourage people to settle on islands to develop economy and defend national seas and islands have also been deployed.

There have also been policies on fishery cooperation between Vietnam and countries sharing fishing grounds, and policies encouraging aquaculture and offshore fishing. Many offshore fishing groups have been established during the period.

Of note, the Law on Fisheries, which was issued in 2017, marked a new development in fishery management in Vietnam amid international integration.

Such preferential policies have helped labourers working at sea as well as those in disadvantaged coastal and island areas.

Over the past ten years, navy, coast guard and fishery surveillance forces and border guards have developed, helping to defend national sovereignty and sovereign rights at sea, ensure security and safety and create favourable conditions and environment for maritime economic activities.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Quy Kien said the State management of seas and islands has changed towards integrated and united management.

He cited the establishment of the Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in 2008, along with the formation of sea management agencies from central to grassroots levels over the past ten years.

The system needs to be intensified to ensure the efficiency of the management work, Kien said, calling for more effective coordination between regions and sectors in marine management and exploitation.

In 2007, the 10th-tenure Party Central Committee adopted Vietnam’s Maritime Strategy towards 2020 to enhance a sea-based economy and protect national sovereignty over islands and seas.

The strategy set a goal that sea-based economic sectors will make up 53-55 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) while per capita income in coastal areas is expected to double the average of the whole country by 2020.