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Tra fish get ‘red list' reprieve

HA NOI — Viet Nam has won the support from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Viet Nam for its request to remove its tra (Pangasius) fish from the red list.

WWF members in a number of European countries put Viet Nam's tra fish products on the red list of its consumer guidance manual for 2010-11. But Viet Nam last week requested the WWF to remove the fish from the list, which advises consumers not to buy the Vietnamese product.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said yesterday the WWF Viet Nam had agreed with the ministry's request to remove the fish from the red list while further studies were conducted.

WWF Viet Nam, however, said it could not be sure whether the world body would agree to endorse the move.

The Fisheries General Department plans to co-operate with the WWF to better assess fish numbers, said Pham Anh Tuan, the department's deputy head.

The WWF's assessment of Vietnamese tra fish stocks was not comprehensive enough as it only focuses on some areas where the fish is raised, Tuan said. Tuan's remarks were echoed by Vietnamese spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga, who said in a press briefing in Ha Noi last Thursday that the WWF's findings were "inaccurate, lack scientific foundation and are at odds with the reality in Viet Nam."

Tuan said the general department had received the WWF's 19 criteria it used when assessing tra fish raising in Viet Nam. He said the study was "very poor in terms of documentation and statistics, which are far behind the level of assessment needed for a national aquatic product."

The WWF's 19 criteria involved four major areas – production, ecological impact, feed and management, Tuan said. The assessment was based on two documents which included one article published on Aquaculture in 2009 and the World Aquaculture Society's appraisal report on the environmental impact of the aquaculture system, also published last year.

Seven of the 19 questions were not sourced, Tuan said.

The general department would discuss the matter with the WWF tomorrow, Tuan added.

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