The Vietnamese Government and people living in the Mekong Delta pay much attention to the food safety issues and sustainable development of Pangasius farming industry. The quality of farming water becomes the first interest factor. The setting up of regulations and standards, of competent authorities in charge and the operation of Research Aquaculture Institutes and Monitoring Centers for Aquaculture environment and Epidemic are three main topics to be particularly focused.
1. Regulations and standards: Based on scientific results of Codex, importing countries and researches on Vietnamese conditions, the Vietnamese Government has promulgated several effective regulations and standards on planning aquaculture zones and environment, quality of water source and food hygiene conditions, etc….
· QCVN 02-20:2014/BNNPTNT National technical standards pangasius farms (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus Sauvage, 1878) - ensuring veterinary hygiene, environmental protection, food safety.
· National Standards 9963:2014 Freshwater Fish - Pangasius - Technical Requirements.
· National Standards QCVN 01-80:2011/BNNPTNT on establishment of aquaculture for human consumption -. Condition for veterinary hygiene.
· QCVN 38:2011/BTNMT National Technical Standards on surface water quality for protection of aquatic life.
· The decision No. 130/2008/QĐ-BNN dated December 31st 2008 of MARD promulgating regulations of contaminant residue control in animal and aquatic products.
· The circular No.44/2010/TT-BNN dated July 22th 2010 of MARD providing for conditions on food safety and hygiene-guaranteed intensive pangasius -rearing establishments and zones.
2. Competent authorities: in charge of state management and enforcement of regulations on planning, safe and hygiene conditions and quality of farming water source. Vietnam has a system of competent agencies from central to local in charge of implementing state management in aquaculture
1. Competent authorities under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) include:
a/ Central level:
- The National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) with 6 Branches nationwide.
- Department of Animal Health.
- Department of Aquaculture (under Department of Fisheries)
b/ Local level:
Provincial Sub-Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development.
2. Research Institutes and Monitoring Centers for Aquaculture environment and Epidemic:
Monitoring Centers for Aquaculture environment and Epidemic under Research Institutes for Aquaculture have implementing the “Surveillance and Monitoring Program for aquaculture environment in Mekong River valley” in the riverhead, middle and lower parts of the Mekong River. Monitoring results showed that parameters on the quality of farming water source (pH, turbidity, salinity, DO, BOD, NH3,...) were at tolerance levels and met standards for freshwater fish farming.
In 2009, scientists of Aquaculture and Fisheries Group-Wageningen University (Netherlands, researching agencies under MARD (Aquaculture Department, Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 2-RIA2), Van Lang University, Can Tho University, Vinh Long Department of Agriculture and Rural Development implemented the research “Environmental impact assessment of the pangasius sector in the Mekong Delta” (see: www.pangasius-Vietnam.com).
The result of the research indicated that about 2% of the Mekong river water passed through the pangasius ponds. The effect on water quality was limited because sedimentation, mineralisation, and infiltration occur in ponds. The contribution of the production ponds to water pollution depends on the way farmers manage their sludge. In the worst case, the sector contributes 2.4% to the N and 3.7% to the P content of the river; while on-land sediment recovery and recycling may reduce these to less than 0.05%. You can click the link for more information (http://edepot.wur.nl/8332).
The National Monitoring Program for certain harmful substances residues in aquaculture fish has been implementing since 2000 by NAFIQAD but contaminants residues (heavy metals, pesticides...) have not been detected or been detected below MRLs in pangasius farming water and flesh.
Results of the above mentioned Programs show that the water source of the Mekong River has not biologically and physically been polluted and is suitable for aquaculture, in compliance with regulations on food hygiene and safety.
The effective control of safety and hygiene conditions in aquaculture and processing of fishery products in general, Pangasius in particular for export to the EU has been recognized by the European Competent Authorities (Food and Veterinary Office - FVO, Directorate General for Health and Consumers) during its recent regular inspections.