Small-fish aquaculture feeds poor consumers and business growth
Reflections from Stephen Hall, Director-General, WorldFish in response to Sam Eaton’s Scaling up: Vietnamese fish farms search for eco-friendly formula. Originally published on Center for Investigative Reporting blog, As aquaculture booms, make room for small fish.
Sam Eaton presents a great picture of how catfish culture has evolved in Vietnam. His story illustrates well the opportunity and challenge faced by the global aquaculture industry. The opportunity lies in the fact that fish farming is the only means for meeting the world’s growing demand for fish. The challenge is that meeting that demand will require careful attention to ensure that farms are well-managed to minimize impact on the environment and maintain profitability.
Several features of the”Pangasius” story are worth emphasizing.
First, catfish farming in Vietnam has consolidated; a handful of large, vertically integrated farms now dominate production and smaller operators like Tran van Tach, mentioned in the story, have been squeezed out. One interesting question is whether alternative models for sustaining production for export through co-operative or contract farming by smaller enterprises would have greater overall economic benefits and be more equitably distributed. This is an important question, not just for Vietnam, but for many other developing countries where aquaculture is growing through small and medium enterprises.