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Brazil stops importing Vietnamese tilapia pending TiLV virus screening

Brazil stops importing Vietnamese tilapia pending TiLV virus screening

Thursday, February 22, 2024, 16:38 GMT+7
Brazil stops importing Vietnamese tilapia pending TiLV virus screening
Tilapia filet is seen in this illustration image. Photo: Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP)

Brazil has halted importing Vietnamese tilapia while waiting for the screening results for risk of infection with tilapia lake virus (TiLV), the Department of Quality, Processing and Market Development under Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced.

The department has received an official notice from the Secretariat of Animal and Plant Health and Inspection under the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply on the halt of importing of tilapia from Vietnam, said a leading official of the department. 

The suspension, which started on February 14, will last until there is a conclusion on the screening for the risk of contracting TiLV among Vietnamese tilapia, as the virus can be transmitted from tilapia of one country to that of another, the official said.

TiLV is an emerging viral pathogen that in recent years has greatly affected both wild and farmed tilapia, according to the U.S.’s National Library of Medicine (NLM).

In 2014, this highly contagious emerging virus was reported for the first time in Israel that was associated with mortality levels of over 80 percent in red tilapia, before it was found in many other countries in the world, the NLM said. 

Following the notice, many Vietnamese exporters have ceased exporting tilapia to Brazil, the department said.

The agency has advised Vietnamese processors of aquatic products for export to Brazil should strictly comply with regulations of the importing country.       

Frozen tilapia is a favorite product to American consumers, and China is the world’s largest supplier and also the biggest provider of this fish to the U.S.

Vietnamese tilapia faces difficulty in competing with its Chinese rival in the U.S. market since the average price of the fish from Vietnam is higher than that from China, despite the current downward trend of the prices of Vietnamese tilapia, the official commented.

This halt of tilapia import may affect the operation of some Vietnamese exporters of seafood.  

Thai Anh Tuan, from a company exporting seafood, mainly tilapia and tra fish (pangasius), said that a market shift can be needed for his firm.

Tilapia is a fast-growing farmed species with increasing production. China and Taiwan are the most abundant sources of this fish in the world, Tuan said. 

“Our tilapia export turnover is low but it has recently shown a good growth trend. Therefore, if Brazil halts import of the fish, we will move to other markets in Japan, Belgium, Italy, the UK, and others,” Tuan said. 

Last year, Vietnam earned more than US$6 million worth of tilapia exported to various markets, mainly to the EU with a turnover of $2 million, according to official figures. 

The Netherlands took a lead in importing tilapia from Vietnam, accounting for nearly a half of the total volume of Vietnamese tilapia exports, followed by the U.S.

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Vinh Tho - Thao Thuong / Tuoi Tre News

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