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A Brief History of Shrimp Farming in Vietnam


Shrimp News: The March 2015 edition of World Aquaculture, the quarterly magazine of the World Aquaculture Society, contains an excellent article by several Vietnamese researchers (see Source below) on the history and current status of shrimp farming in Vietnam.  Here, I report on the history.  You can view the current status report here.


With diversification of species, systems and organizational structures—hatchery and farm production of marine shrimp in Vietnam has been growing rapidly for several decades, contributing significantly to the socioeconomic development of the country in general and the Mekong Delta in particular.


The first trials on hatchery production of marine shrimp (Penaeus merguiensis and P. penicillatus) were conducted in the 1970s in northern Vietnam.  In 1984-1985, giant tiger shrimp (P. monodon) were successfully produced in the central provinces.  In the Mekong Delta, shrimp seed production started in 1988 with the local species (P. merguiensis and P. indicus) and then shifted mostly to giant tiger shrimp by 1997.  Pacific white shrimp (P. vannamei) were introduced into Vietnam in 2000, and their culture developed rapidly in the central provinces, and since 2007, P. vannamei farming has been spreading to the Mekong Delta.


In 1986, 3.3 million postlarvae were produced from 16 hatcheries.  By 2005, 28.8 billion postlarvae, mostly giant tiger shrimp, were produced from 4,280 hatcheries, most of them small-scale.  Since 2005, however, there has been a great change in the shrimp hatchery industry.  The number of shrimp hatcheries gradually decreased, while their size rapidly increased, especially for those producing Pacific white shrimp.  By 2012, the number of hatcheries decreased to 1,715, but their production increased to 67 billion postlarvae, of which 30 billion were Pacific white shrimp.  By 2013, production of Pacific white shrimp postlarvae increased to 47 billion, more than double that of giant tiger shrimp, 21 billion.  Today, the central provinces are home to 40 percent of the country’s shrimp hatcheries and 70 percent of its postlarvae production.


Shrimp farming methods intensified over time, starting with extensive farming systems in the early 1970s, to improved extensive farming systems in the early 1980s, to semi-intensive and intensive farming since 1985, and to super-intensive farming systems recently.


Monoculture systems, mangrove systems and rice/shrimp rotation systems were developed in the early 1980s.  In 1991, Vietnam had 230,000 hectares of shrimp ponds with total production of about 56,000 metric tons, increasing to 600,479 hectares and 304,257 tons by 2005, mostly giant tiger shrimp.  However, Pacific white shrimp farming has developed rapidly since then, and by 2013, a total culture area of 652,613 hectares and production of 475,854 tons were achieved, of which Pacific white shrimp comprised 9.8 percent of the production area and 51.7 percent of the production volume.


Today, the Mekong Delta accounts for over 90 percent of the culture area and 60 percent of annual production.  Although there is an increasing trend toward intensification, improved extensive systems, mangrove systems and rice/shrimp rotation systems remain the major systems, covering more than 85 percent of the production area in Vietnam.


Although shrimp farming in Vietnam is still characterized mainly by small-scale household farming, many other organizational structures have been established, like cooperatives, independent entrepreneurs and large companies.  International certification standards from Global GAP, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Best Aquaculture Practices have been applied and promoted.


Sources: 1.  World Aquaculture (the quarterly magazine of the World Aquaculture Society).  Editor-in-Chief, John Hargreaves.  Innovation in Seed Production and Farming of Marine Shrimp in Vietnam.  Tran Ngoc Hai (email tnhai@ctu.edu.vn), Pham Minh Duc, Vo Nam Son, Truong Hoang Minh and Nguyen Thanh Phuong.  Volume 46, Number 1, Page 32, March 2015. 2. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, April 2015.

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