Consumers shy away from seafood despite diving prices

By Hoang Tao   May 4, 2016 | 05:26 pm GMT+7
Consumers shy away from seafood despite diving prices
Consumers still shy away from offshore seafood. Photo by Hoang Tao

Efforts by authorities, traders and fishermen to prove that seafood is still safe have failed to convince consumers in areas hit by mass fish deaths, who are still avoiding seafood despite prices falling by up to 50 percent.

“Prior to the mass fish deaths, the price of pompano was about VND10,000 ($0.4) per kilogram, but now it is only about VND5,000. People don't want to buy my fish so I have to sell it to manufacturers or use it to feed animals,” said Ho Thuan, a fishermen in the central province of Quang Binh, one of the four affected provinces.

Ho Thuan recently returned from a week-long offshore fishing trip. His fish were tested and granted quality certificates right after his boat docked.

“I am a fisherman. If I do not go fishing, what else can I do to make ends meet? I hope the price will start to recover,” Thuan said. After selling his catch, Thuan is preparing for his next trip.

Like Thuan, wholesaler Le Thi Thuoc spent hours at a fishing port completing all the steps to obtain a safety certificate for the seafood she had bought.

consumers-shy-away-from-seafood-despite-diving-prices

A fishing dock in Quang Tri province has seen a low number of customers since the mass fish deaths. Photo by Hoang Tao

“Many fishermen do not want to sell their catches, saying that wholesalers are squeezing them with low prices. But we cannot sell the seafood either, even though we have explained many times to consumers that it is safe,” Thuoc said.

Thuoc had to sell her seafood to a frozen seafood processing plant after it failed to sell at local markets.

Le Quang Vinh, director of Quang Tri province’s Department of Industry and Trade, said the department had assigned officials to fishing ports to test seafood as soon as it came off the boats, and issue safety certificates where appropriate.