On the morning of one day in mid-July, the fishing vessel with a capacity of more than 400CV of Mr. Phung Van Tien, a fisherman in Phan Thiet City of Binh Thuan Province, and a crew of more than ten people arrived at Phan Thiet fishing port after more than half a month of fishing offshore. Right after that, nearly ten tons of mackerel scads and yellow-stripe scads on Mr. Tien's ship were immediately bought by a company. “The day we set sail, everyone was worried and afraid that seafood could not be consumed because of the pandemic. However, when knowing that enterprises still purchase fish, we felt assured to stay at sea. Although the price of seafood decreased in this fishing trip, after deducting the cost, my crew had an income of nearly VND10 million each," said Mr. Tien.
After handing over the seafood to the buyer, the group of fishermen on Mr. Tien's ship immediately contacted the health authority to make medical declarations and submit the sailing schedule, and then returned to the vessel to continue preparing essential supplies for the fishing trip in the next few days.
As dozens of tons of anchovies collected in the first trip of this main fishing season were purchased all by traders, Mr. Tran Ut, a fisherman in Mui Ne Ward of Phan Thiet City, happily said that the current price of anchovies was at VND9,000 per kilogram. Although it slightly decreased compared to the same period last year, the decrease was not much. At present, local traditional fish sauce and fish meal facilities needed a large volume of fish for production, so anchovies and some other fish were still consumed stably.
As for Phu Quy Island District, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the prices of seafood tended to decrease, but in return, the fish catches were high. According to the People's Committee of the island district, in the first six months of this year, the weather was favorable, so the seafood output reached nearly 19,000 tons, up 4.65 percent over the same period last year.
Enterprises join hands with fishermen
Mr. Huynh Quang Huy, Director of the Department of Fisheries of Binh Thuan Province, said that up to now, the local fishing output is estimated at 100,000 tons, up 20 percent year-on-year. According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Binh Thuan Province, seafood fishing and trading activities in the locality are still under control, thanks to good pandemic prevention by the province and the cooperation and support of seafood purchasing establishments and enterprises when committing to consuming seafood for fishers.
Mr. Do Van Thanh, Director of Bich Thanh Company in Phan Thiet fishing port in Phan Thiet City, said that since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, the seafood consumption of enterprises in Binh Thuan has faced many difficulties. However, enterprises have still tried their best to buy seafood for fishers, then put them in cold storage for preservation to waiting for favorable conditions to put on sale.
“Fishers are long-term partners, so when they face difficulties, we have to find a way to support them as much as we can. Not only me but many other local establishments and enterprises are also operating at full capacity to buy seafood from them," said the owner of a seafood purchasing establishment at La Gi fishing port.
Mr. Truong Quang Hien, Chairman of the Phan Thiet Fish Sauce Association, also informed that anchovies are the main seafood exploited in Binh Thuan Province during the main fishing season. Although currently, due to the complicated developments of the Covid-19 pandemic, steamed anchovy product for export to China and South Korea is temporarily suspended, thanks to the active purchase of local traditional fish sauce production facilities and companies, anchovy consumption is not stagnant.
However, according to the fisheries sector, seafood purchasing establishments, and enterprises in Binh Thuan Province, the above solutions are only temporary because the storage and processing capacity of these units is limited. Moreover, while the price of seafood products is declining, gasoline and oil prices have climbed, making the cost for each sea trip of fishers many times higher. Therefore, in order for the fishing and seafood purchasing industry to be stable, besides the need to focus on repelling the Covid-19 pandemic to stabilize trade, fishers, and seafood purchasing enterprises need support from authorities with practical solutions, such as supporting fuel prices and storage costs and actively promoting consumption channels, ensuring pandemic prevention and economic development at the same time.