Pangasius catfish has emerged in the last decade as one of the most successful globally traded aquaculture products. In the last 20 years the Vietnamese export of pangasius has grown over 50 fold. However, there is concern over the rapid growth and unsustainability of intensive scale aquaculture in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
The “Supporting Vietnamese pangasius producers towards sustainability”- project aimed to improve the environmental and social sustainability of pangasius production in Vietnam through a service platform that supported producers to produce pangasius according to internationally accepted sustainability standards. The main goal of the project, funded by IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative and implemented between 2011 and 2013, was to improve the environmental and social sustainability of the whole pangasius supply chain through the use of internationally accepted social- environmental and food safety standards in the Mekong Delta.
Over the last few years, the fish farming industry, NGOs and scientists have jointly developed criteria for responsible pangasius farming, the ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) standard for pangasius. In Europe and the US the demand for sustainably produced and ASC certified pangasius is growing. Addressing sustainability issues in Pangasius farming provided two complementary benefits:
- Helped to create a future proof, sustainable and economically viable pangasius industry in Vietnam;
- Helped to get better access to European and North American consumer markets.
ASC provides an internationally accepted standard for the environmental and social sustainability of Vietnamese pangasius, but the certification process requires significant upfront investment by the farmers. To support the producers on the way to ASC certification, the ASC Accelerator was created by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, SNV and leading European pangasius traders (Binca, DKSH, Femeg, Mayonna, Nordic Seafood, Queens and Seafood Connection) in close collaboration with WWF, the Vietnamese government, Vasep and Vinafis. The ASC Accelerator helped traders to organise their supply of ASC certified pangasius, strengthened their relations with suppliers and created meaningful impact on the water.
The core elements of the project included:
Gap analysis & work plan – assessment of the gaps of participating farms to achieve ASC compliance and development of a work plan for certification;
ASC Accelerator platform – to offer (and, when necessary, develop) strategic services, quality service providers, monitor compliance and progress to enable producer’s to gain ASC certification.
Co-financing mechanism – targeted support via a financial co-contribution (up to 50%) for selected producers to comply with criteria for ASC certification when they access ASC Accelerator selected strategic services and service providers.
After two years of implementation the project achieved the following results:
- 35 pangasius farms engaged intensively in the programme and received co-financing;
- 51,250 metric tons of ASC-certified pangasius were produced, of which 18,300 metric tons were purchased by programme partners;
- 246 additional hectare is under certified sustainable farm management.