A preliminary analysis on the socioeconomic situation of coastal fishing communities in Vietnam

Fish production in Vietnam increased rapidly from 420 000 t in 1981 to 1 130 680 t in 1998. Likewise, there was an expansion in the number of motorized fishing boats from 29 584 units with an average horsepower (HP) of 19.8 boat-1 in 1981 to 71 800 units with an average HP of 26.2 in 1998. In 1995, fish production was valued at VN$2 475 billion (US$0.02 billion at 1 US$ = 11 041 VN$; source: oanda. com). However 93% of the total fishing boats in Vietnam have engine capacity of less than 84 HP, thus fishing operations are still small scale and fishing grounds are limited to the coastal waters. The infrastructure facilities for fishing operations and post-harvest are still minimal. Fisheries contribute 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in Vietnam. In 1990, the GDP of fisheries was VN$1 281 billion and reached VN$6 664 billion (US$0.60 billion) in 1995. Fisheries labor in Vietnam includes labor for aquaculture, processing, fishery services and fishing. Fisheries labor increased from 1 860 000 persons to 3 030 000 giving a relative increase of 63% from 1990 to 1995. The average level of fish consumption in Vietnam is estimated at 13.5 kg·capita-1. In 1980, there were 28 021 motorized fishing boats that steadily increased to 71 800 in 1998. Likewise, the average engine capacity per boat increased from 19.8 HP in 1980 to 26.2 HP in 1998. The types of fishing gear that provide substantive catch in Vietnam are the trawl, purse seine, gillnet, long line, hand line, lift net and stick-held falling net. The fishing grounds in Vietnam can be classified into: (a) North: trawl, gillnet, lift net, purse seine, hook and line fishery; (b) Central: purse seine, lift net, gillnet, trawl fishery; and (c) South: trawl, purse seine, gillnet and line fishery. In terms of fish catch and net profit contribution the most important are the trawl and purse seine fisheries. Fish production in the Southern provinces is more developed compared to the northern and central provinces. Most of the commercial scale fishing vessels bring trash fish or by-catch to the shore for fish sauce or fish powder processing. Only trawlers that fish offshore and thus stay at sea for several days discard the trash fish. An attempt to estimate the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) of the coastal fishery resources in Vietnam was made. Using the Schaefer and Fox Models, it was found that MSY is equal to 976 378 t and 1 006 850 t respectively, as against the annual catch of 1 130 660 t, implying biological over-fishing. Thus, the total fish catch in the traditional fishing areas of Vietnam is beyond the sustainable limit of 582 000 t. The Government of Vietnam has therefore developed policies and plans to reduce the fishing pressure on the coastal waters and pursue development of offshore fisheries.


Nguyen Long (2003)
p. 657-688. Assessment, management and future directions for coastal fisheries in Asian countries. WorldFish Center conference proceedings; 67