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Fish farms fail to thrive in Lam Dong

The farming of coldwater fish has failed to develop as expected in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, mired in distribution, investment and methodical difficulties.
The farming of coldwater fish has failed to develop as expected in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, mired in distribution, investment and methodical difficulties.


Tran Van Hao, Chairman of the Lam Dong Coldwater Fish Farming Association, said just 11 of 40 planned projects were launched in 2014, forming just 30 hectares of fish farms as against the targeted 350 hectares. These farms produced 200 tonnes of sturgeon, far below expectations.

Farming of coldwater fish, in particular sturgeon, is relatively recent venture in the country, beginning to develop five years ago in the provinces of Lam Dong and Lao Cai. Sturgeons are being bred with production reaching 700 tonnes in 2013, of which Lam Dong Province accounting for more than 50 percent.

A national plan envisaged harvests of 1,500 tonnes of coldwater fish by 2015 – 1,000 tonnes of sturgeon and 500 tonnes of salmon. However total production in 2014 was just 550 tonnes.

Hao said many enterprises that had initially invested in breeding coldwater fish had quit, and others had scaled back their operations.

Meanwhile, raising salmon requires large investments and meticulous care, forcing many firms to abandon it or shift to breeding for research purposes.

Hao admitted that the challenges in breeding coldwater fish had been underestimated. Several enterprises that have entered the business were learning on the job, and were not fully conversant with best breeding conditions and methods, he said.

Vu Ba Lien, farm manager with the Ngoc Mai Trang Company, said expensive imported feed, contaminated water and unusual rains had killed much of his salmon stock, and they had to switch to sturgeon and black carp.

Local farmers were excessively dependent on imported feed, with around 350 tonnes shipped in last year, he said.

Another problem was the illegal import of cheap sturgeon and salmon from China, which has seriously affected the local fish farming industry, he said.

It is estimated that around 2-3 tonnes of fresh sturgeon is illegally brought in from China into HCM City by air every day and sold at one-third the price of locally bred fish. .

Hao said that locally, sturgeon are bred in near natural conditions and harvested after 12-14 months when they reach a weight of around two kilograms. Chinese sturgeon, on the other hand, use growth stimulants and can be harvested after 4-6 months, making them much cheaper.

Several firms had recently begun importing Chinese sturgeon and putting them into fish farms in northern provinces for some time, so that they could be sold as locally-bred fish in the market, Hao said.

This meant that the local industry was likely to fall well short of the 2020 target of 100 hectares of farms producing 3,000 tonnes of coldwater fish, he added.



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