In recent years, the booming development and the lack of planning of the shrimp farming industry have devastated large areas of mangrove forest in Vietnam. In this context, development ofthe model of eco-certified shrimp farming in combination with mangrove conservation in Ca Mau is a suitable and highly effective solution. The Environmental Magazine has an interview with Mr. Dinh Xuan Lap, the Deputy Director of the International Collaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability(ICAFIS) about the results and measures to develop this model.
Mr. Dinh Xuan Lap, the Deputy Director (ICAFIS)
Interviewer: Could you tell us about the result of the model of eco-certified shrimp farming in combination with mangrove conservation in Vietnam?
Mr. Dinh Xuan Lap: The statistics shows that currently, 50 percent of mangrove forest areas in Vietnam have been degraded due to the destruction for brackish water shrimp farming. Vietnam had about 408,500 hectares of mangrove forest areas in 1943; however, in 2006, there were only about 200,000 hectares remaining;and the Mekong Delta has been the area with the most severe reduction. With the aim to protect and sustainably develop mangrove forest ecosystem andto stabilize people's livelihoods, since 2000, the Netherlands Development Organization and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have implemented the mangrove forest restoration project through the eco-certified shrimp farming and emissions reduction model (MAM project), pilotedin Ca Mau. The MAM project has guided farms to raise shrimp in the natural environment of mangrove forest to minimize the impacts of environmental pollution and diseases on shrimp. Shrimp are stocked at low density and meet requirement of at least 50-percent mangrove cover. This extensive shrimp farming model has much lower cost than intensive farming model; farmed shrimp will be issued the Naturland Organic Shrimp Certification by German Association for Organic Agriculture.To get this certification, shrimp farms in mangrove forests are required not to use chemicals. Naturland certification is considered to be an effective market-based environmental management system, in which economic, social and environmental objectives are ensured. On one hand, it helps to provide safe shrimp products for users. On the other hand, it protects mangrove forest in the integrated mangrove-shrimp farming areas.Up to now, Ca Mau province has 21,627 hectares ofshrimp farming areas with Naturland certification; 80 hectares of mangrove forest areas which was destroyed for shrimp farming have been replanted. Thus, the effectiveness of the MAM project is highly evident, expressed in terms of economic value and environmental protection. The organic shrimp farming model has attracted more and more households, supporting farmers in Ca Mau to escape from poverty in a more sustainable manner.
Interviewer: Could you tell us the advantages and disadvantages when Vietnam widely applies the model of eco-certified shrimp farming in combination with mangrove conservation?
Mr. Dinh Xuan Lap: The application of the model of eco-certified shrimp farming in combination with mangrove protection has brought economic and environmental benefits. As a country with over 3000-kilometer coastline, Vietnam has favorable conditions to develop this model. This isa new way of doing for people in mangrove forest areas. Mangrove forestsare the natural habitat and breeding ground of shrimp and other aquatic species, providing food sources from organic waste, shade and rootsforshrimp shelter.
In addition,with thecriterion that economic developmenthas to be accompanied by environment protection, many international economic organizations have set more stringent criteria for shrimp producers, processors and exporters. Therefore, farmed shrimp products must meet the requirements of origin traceability and wastewater treatment process, etc. to be exported to other countries. With the advantages of environmentally-friendliness, low costs and high profits, the model of organic shrimp farming in combination with mangrove protection has been chosen by many localities. Through the mechanism of ensuring output consumption, the costs related to the application process of the organic shrimpcertification system will be covered by seafood processing companies. At the same time, farmers also receive financial support from seafood processing companies for mangrove protection and development.
However, in addition to the achievements, there are still some difficulties such as the limited capacity ofin applying the international certification systems among small-scale shrimp farmers; the decline in shrimp broodstock quantity in the wild, so the production of shrimp breeding stock for organic and eco-certified shrimp farming areas has been deficient. Some mangrove forest areas have not recovered, so it is difficult to meet the environmental criteria in the process of applying for the certification; the chain production linkage has not been tightened, etc.
Shrimp farming in mangrove forest area in Ca Mau
Interviewer: In the future, what solutions will ICAFIS implement to promote this model in Vietnam?
Mr. Dinh Xuan Lap: Currently, ICAFIS has been cooperating with the Non-Government Organization (OXFAM) in Vietnam and local partners to implement the European-funded project of“Sustainable and Equitable Shrimp Production and Value Chain Development (SusV)”. Throughout the project, ICAFIS will promote sustainable production models along with natural resources protection, including mangrove forests; enhance the capacity for farmers and community organizations in market-driven production; promote the formation of shrimp chain linkages, thereby sharing the interests and responsibilities of the parties in the production and resources protection, especially in the context of climate change.
In the future, ICAFIS will continue cooperating with the General Department of Fisheries (MARD), universities and research institutes to train farmers in localities across the country in improving the quantity and quality of organic shrimp; expand the areas of organic shrimp farming in mangrove forests associated with international certification; build Vietnamese shrimp brand in association with organic products; promote trade and expand the market for mangrove-farmed shrimp products; create equality among enterprises in developing international certification; enhance cooperation and transparency in sharing responsibilities and interests among stakeholders in the shrimp value chain and forest protection; improve legal framework to encourage enterprises and organizations to participate in internationally- certified organic shrimp farming model .
Thank you, Sir!
Chau Loan (Implementer)
(This article was puplished on the Environment Magazine, Enghish III/2018)