Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ‘declared war’ on the practice of injecting shrimp with jelly-like substances in the country’s export shrimp market in an iron-fisted move to improve the industry’s international image.
The statement came Monday during a seminar on ‘developing Vietnam’s shrimp industry’ hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau.
“The [Vietnamese] government will sternly crack down on those that violate laws, affecting Vietnam’s shrimp-farming industry and give a bad reputation to Vietnamese shrimp,” the prime minister said at Monday’s seminar.
The practice is hardly news in Vietnam and the country’s officials have been fighting the tedious war against substance-injected shrimp for nearly 20 years, though their efforts have seen little success.
Shrimp injection is particularly prevalent in the Mekong Delta provinces of Bac Lieu, Ca Mau, Soc Trang and Kien Giang in southern Vietnam, where most of the country’s shrimp farms are located, according to a report by the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD).
Shrimp merchants in these areas have been injecting jelly-like substances into their product’s head, abdomen, and tail for as long as the history of Vietnam’s shrimp export industry in a bid to improve the size, weight, and freshness of their shrimp.
Since 1998, the country’s Ministry of Fisheries, now part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has launched multiple programs and campaigns to eliminate the illegal practice, but so far their solutions have yet to gain traction.
South Korea and Japan, two major importers of Vietnam’s shrimp, have warned they will take action against Vietnamese shrimp imports if the country is unable to end to the substance injection.
In 2016, NAFIQAD worked in conjunction with the Department of Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Economic Security Police to crack down on certain shrimp-processing facilities in Bac Lieu and Ca Mau found to be injecting shrimp with unknown substances.
It has vowed to take even stronger action this year, in line with its slogan ‘say no to substances’.
Vietnam currently exports an average of US$3 billion worth of shrimp to foreign markets each year.
The country is looking to expand its 700,000 hectares of shrimp farms to produce $10 billion in turnover from shrimp exports by 2025.