Imports of illegal sturgeon increase
04:18 - 18/03/2015
HA NOI (VNS)— More than 15 tonnes of unauthorised fish are brought into Viet Nam every day, equivalent to 5,000 tonnes a year, yet all of them have legal documents proving they are grown by domestic farms according to the Viet Nam Sturgeon Corporation.
Local businesses are only able to supply 1,000 tonnes of sturgeon each year, meeting around 20 per cent of consumer demand, this has resulted in smugglers flooding the domestic supply with foreign fish stocks.

It takes one year for sturgeon to mature, yet in the first six months of the year more than 70 tonnes of sturgeon received quarantine certificates, the Ministry of Public Security's Environmental Crime Prevention Police Department said.

However, in spite of the increasing volume of this illegally imported fish flooding the market few cases of illegal sturgeon trafficking have been detected, according to the department.

The department said only 10 tonnes of illegally imported sturgeon have been detected so far.

Sturgeon are raised mainly in Cao Bang, Lao Cai, Lai Chau, Son La and Bac Giang provinces which are located in the northern, mountainous regions which share a border with China.

The department said smugglers take advantage of local ethnic people to transport the sturgeon across the border.

They also closely follow the movements of the relevant boarder control agencies to avoid detection, according to the department.

The smugglers then collude with some local sturgeon farmers by mixing their fish with domestic stock in order to obtain official documents.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is responsible for inspecting the operational capacity of aquaculture farms, especially those raising sturgeon, before granting them a certificate of origin and quarantine for their products.

Earlier, chairman of the Viet Nam Cold Water Fish Association Tran Van Hao stressed the need to increase border controls and trace the origin of sturgeon imported into the country.

If no measures were taken, the domestic sturgeon farming industry would gradually break down, affecting thousands of labourers, he said.

Domestically-grown sturgeon is sold at a premium price of VND200,000 (US$9.5) per kilo while the price of illegally-imported sturgeon fetches VND130,000-150,000 ($6-7) per kilo in Ha Noi.

Ha Noi's Market Watch last week made an inspection at Metro Thang Long, a branch of wholesaler Metro Cash&Carry Viet Nam after Viet Nam Sturgeon Group accused Metro supermarket of selling the illegally imported fish.

The supermarket has suspended sale of sturgeon while waiting for a decision on its official origin. — VNS

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