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.

Shrimp by-products should be used

The Government should have policies to support research and processing that would use shrimp by-products as high-value products, experts have said.

For every kilo of shrimp, processing plants leave out 35-50 percent of by-products, including heads and shells.

Shrimp output was more than 720,000 tonnes last year, and the processing industry produced 320,000 tonnes of by-products from them, they said.

This is a waste, researchers said, adding that by-products contain many nutrients that can be used in pharmaceutical, cosmetic and animal feed production.

Many new products with a high-profit margin could enter the market if there was a comprehensive research investment strategy, they said.

Phan Thanh Loc, deputy chairman of Vietnam Food Company, said many developed countries had successfully developed products from fishery by-products.

The application of technology increases the value of shrimp by-products by many times.

One kilo of shrimp heads sold to animal feed producers and businesses just earn a few thousand dong. However, if technology is used to extract nutrients from shrimp heads for use in the food industry and animal feed, businesses could earn over 20,000 VND on every kilo of shrimp heads, he said.

In particular, if businesses extract chitosan, which is used in making food wrapping film, they could earn much more money, he added.

Dr. Trang Sy Trung, rector of Nha Trang University, said that shrimp heads and shells were still considered waste and used mostly to make food for animals instead of for other purposes.

Studies have shown that the nutrient content in shrimp by-products is high: 8 percent lipid, 20 percent chitin and 48 percent protein.

Scientists from Nha Trang University have conducted research to develop useful products from shrimp by-products for the agricultural, aquaculture and pharmaceutical sectors, including chitosan solutions for treating fungi on mango and chili.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, research institutes, universities and companies have researched and invested in products made from shrimp by-products but the results have been modest, with the output being mostly raw products.

Businesses and scientists said there were few specific policies for supporting the processing of shrimp by-products and marketing of products made from the by-products.

They suggested that the Government provide support to increase the use of these by-products by more enterprises and researchers.

Recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology coordinated with Nha Trang University and Vietnam Food to launch a fund for supporting the development of the shrimp by-product sector in Vietnam.

The fund’s main purpose is to support research and the training of human resources, with the aim of developing high-value products from shrimp by-products.