With a population of just over 93.6 million in 2017, Vietnam is the eight-most-populous Asian country and ranks 15th worldwide. Vietnam is located on the eastern Indochina Peninsula and covers a total area of 331,210 km2 (comparable to Germany e.g.). Until today, agriculture has been a key contributor to the overall economy, in which the flat and fertile river deltas such as the Red River Delta in the North and the Mekong River Delta in southern Vietnam play an important role. With a coastline of 3,444 km in length, it should not be a surprise that fishery has been an important source of food and income throughout history. Likewise, the aquaculture sector, which is dominated by brackish water and freshwater production systems, is said to have a long historic tradition. While it mostly contributed to subsistence farming in the past, aquaculture has become an important part of the national economy since its commercial orientation as part of the Blue Revolution in the 1990s. In 2014, Vietnam took over Thailand as the leading Southeast Asian exporter in terms of value but has been replaced by India in 2017. At the moment Vietnam is the fourth largest exporter worldwide after China, Norway and India. Its key aquaculture sectors include pangasius, shrimp, tilapia and increasingly also bivalves and marine fishes such as cobia, seabass and grouper.

In Vietnam
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Species in Vietnam

Click on the species and find out more about the species in Vietnam

Vietnam's seafood sector

According to FAO, Vietnam has the 8th most important marine fisheries worldwide with harvests of 2,678,406 tonnes in 2016. In addition, it produced some 107,534 tonnes from inland fisheries which is a reduction of almost 33% compared to 2015. In terms of aquaculture Vietnam produced 3.6 million tonnes seafood in 2016. Overall, Vietnam became the fourth major seafood exporter in terms of value in 2017, and took over Thailand as the leading southeast Asian exporter since 2014. More than 5 million people are directly employed in the seafood sector and around 8 million people derive their income from the fisheries sector. The value of seafood exports has increased from US$ 776 million in 1997 to US$7.04 billion in 2016 according to Trademap (2018), which is in line with the report from Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), who reported a value of US$7.05 billion. Mirror data for 2017 show an export value of US$7.01 billion. Vietnam has set ambitious future projections stating that the country is expected to produce 6 to 7 million tonnes of seafood in 2020, with an export projection of US$11 billion. In 2015, the seafood sector contributed 8% to the nation's economy, with aquaculture contributing considerably with, 65-70% to the total output. For 2017, the export value of agro, forestry and seafood products reached a record $36.37 billion which is an increase of 13% compared to 2016. Seafood exports are expected to reach US$8.5 billion in 2018.

Fisheries and aquaculture production

Source: FAO (2018)

While production from fisheries has slightly increased between 2012 and 2016, Vietnam’s capture fisheries is estimated to have reached its total sustainable yield some years ago. The total capture volume is therefore likely to stabilize over

the coming years and cannot be expected to grow further.

The most important export product categories are tuna, cephalopods, and surimi products. The most important fisheries are located in the central Vietnam areas (tuna, surimi) and the Gulf of Thailand (cephalopods). Vietnam also possesses a MSC-certified clam fisheries located in Ben Tre.

In the same period (2012-2016), aquaculture production has significantly increased, growing with 17% Major contributors to this increase were increased shrimp, tilapia and pangasius production.

Production per species in 2016 (tonnes)

Source: FAO (2018)

The category 'cultured freshwater fish' includes fish farmed in brackish water. Cultured freshwater fish represents more than 90% of the total annual aquaculture production, of which pangasius contributes the biggest part. However, the year-on-

year increase is low, being only 4% in 2015-2016.

Crustaceans are another important contributor to the cultured production, which grew with 15% between 2015-2016, and was responsible for 19% of the total aquaculture production. While P. monodon traditionally been the dominating species, recently L. vannamei has reached higher production numbers from 2014. L. vannamei had a total production in 2017 with 427,000 tonnes over the 256,000 tonnes of P. monodon.

Seafood export markets

Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre, 2017 represents mirror data, China did not report their figures yet.

In the above table, European Union and EFTA countries are combined as one group as Switzerland is also an important importer of seafood (plus value

added) from Vietnam. The United States are Vietnam’s biggest export partner, importing nearly US$ 1.7 billion of seafood products in 2014, accounting for 20% of total Vietnamese exports. In 2015 and 2016 the value of import by the United States for seafood from Vietnam has reduced to US$1.45 billion in 2016 according to VASEP. Trademap mirror data suggests that the EU+EFTA has surpassed the United States in terms of export value.

The EU and EFTA comes second in 2016 with 18% or over US$ 1.2 billion. Japan (16%) comes third and is the most important partner in Asia, followed by China (10%) and Korea (9%). Within the European Union in 2016 the United Kingdom was ranked 1st with US$205 million. Replacing Germany's second place is the Netherlands, with an import value of US$ 204 million. Third is Germany, with US$ 176 million, an decrease of almost US$8 million from 2015. It is followed by the Italy (2%), Belgium (2%) and France (1%).

Export product composition in 2017 (US$ mln)

Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre, This is mirror data.

By value, crustaceans contributed just over 27% to the total seafood export volume in 2017, creating a

value of more than US$ 1.9 billion. This is a reduction of over US$300 million compared to 2016, although 2017 are not fixed yet. Fish fillets and other fish meat had an increased share in market value of 34%, although 2017 are showing a decrease to 29%. Here it is pangasius and tilapia that are important sectors, also well-described in the species section. Prepared and preserved molluscs and crustaceans account for 20% of the annual value in 2016, while prepared and preserved fish and molluscs with US$ 1051 million combined made 15% together. In terms of export volume, the exports of pangasius is much higher than the exports of shrimp.


Last updated: 01/10/2018

  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

    Species Number of Farms Total Volume (MT)
    Shrimp 85 37,173
    Pangasius 45 242,810
    Tilapia 1 1,000
  • Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)

    Species Number of Farms Total Volume (MT)
    Shrimp 65 NA
    Pangasius 10 NA

    Species Number of Farms Total Volume (MT)
    Shrimp 19 NA
    Pangasius 5 NA

Trade and Investment regulations

Vietnam scores 68 out of 190 on the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business in’ Index. The EU is an important trade partner of Vietnam and vice versa. Many European companies are doing business in the country.
This section provides you with up to date information about trading and investing in aquaculture, fisheries and processing in Vietnam. Click the links below to learn more!

  1. GSP facilities and Free Trade Agreements
  2. Setting up a representative or branch office
  3. FDI regulation and setting up a subsidiary company
  4. Taxes and duties
  5. Custom procedures
  6. Arbitration law
  7. Cultural do’s and don’ts

Sector support programs

  • Aquaculture 2.0: Sustainable Innovation in Vietnam’s Aquaculture Industry

    ‘Aquaculture 2.0: Sustainable Innovation in Vietnam’s Aquaculture Industry’ is a competition funded by the Dutch government that aims at linking innovative project ideas with investors in order to drive change within the Vietnamese aquaculture sector. To be kicked off during the Blue Growth Conference that is organised by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in October 2016 in Vietnam, the competition involves different activities that target at supporting the Vietnamese government in its aim to lead the aquaculture sector into sustainable growth. The winners of the competition will be coached and assisted in order to turn their ideas into investable business plans.

    STIP, Solidaridad, Fresh Studio & University of Wageningen
  • SUPERSEAS - Supermarket supported area-based management and certification of aquaculture in southeast Asia

    The overall aim of SUPERSEAS is to improve the design of area-based management for aquaculture production in order to reduce the social and environmental risks associated with smallholder aquaculture. Moreover it aims to improve the terms under which smallholders are incorporated in domestic, regional and international retail-led value chains. Funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and implemented by the University of Wageningen (The Netherlands), SUPERSEAS uses a participatory multidisciplinary approach working with a broad range of organizations and stakeholders within the aquaculture field.

    Wageningen University and partner organizations
  • ASC shrimp certification for Thong Thuan and Thong Thuan Cam Ranh farms in Vietnam

    The project’s goal is to make current shrimp farming practices of the Thong Thuan Seafood Company more sustainable and to produce 4,500 MT of ASC certified shrimp. The three objectives of the project are: 1) to apply responsible practices through the application of ASC shrimp standards; 2) to minimize losses of disease by strengthening capacity in disease prevention and biosecurity; and 3) integration into the global market by strengthening branding and marketing capacity.

    InternationalCollaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability (ICAFIS) in Vietnam
  • Supporting aquaculture producers in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam with the transition towards sustainable production through ASC certification

    This project aims to support aquaculture producers in the Mekong Delta moving towards sustainable production, reducing negative environmental and social impacts. The project includes 6 pangasius farms, 1 tilapia farm and 10 shrimp farms belonging to 12 private companies. The project aims to achieve 46,800 MT of pangasius, 10,000 MT of tilapia and 9,250 MT of shrimp ASC certified.

    World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Vietnam
  • ASC shrimp certification for Sao Ta (Soc Trang farm) in Vietnam

    This project aims to achieve 1,200 MT of ASC certified shrimp by the application of more responsible production practices. Through the application of ASC certification it aims to intensify production and meet the demand of international buyers.

    InternationalCollaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability (ICAFIS) in Vietnam
  • ASC shrimp certification for Minh Phu Seafood Corporation & Vinh Thuan in Vietnam

    This is the first project in Vietnam to support large-scale shrimp farmers to adopt ASC production. MinhPhu and Vinh Thuan are two of the largest shrimp producers in Vietnam. With the support of the FIT Fund each producer expects to deliver 3,000 MT of sustainable shrimp annually.

    SNV World
  • Promoting better management practices, ASC certification and improving marketing by establishing supply chains of responsibly produced shrimp in the Mekong delta of Vietnam

    This project promotes the transition of at least 26 farmer groups/cooperatives towards responsible shrimp production by applying Better Management Practices and it supports at least 2 large scale-farms and 4 farmer groups/cooperatives in obtaining ASC certification. It aims to reach 4,300 MT of responsible produced shrimp (780 MT/year for large-scale farms and 3,520 MT/year for small-scale farms). Furthermore the project supports the establishment of sustainable supply chains by linking small- and large-scale farmers (horizontal links) with service providers, processors and seafood buyers (vertical links), providing benefits and reducing vulnerabilities for shrimp farmers, especially for small-scale shrimp farmers.

    World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Vietnam
  • ASC shrimp certification for Minh Phu Seafood Corporation in Vietnam

    This project aims to achieve 3,000 MT of sustainably produced shrimp, minimize negative impact on the environment and contribute to the development of communities and society through the application of ASC standards and the integration into the global market. Through the project and application of ASC shrimp standards, the farm will upgrade its infrastructure, apply more sustainable practices and use more responsible feed and high quality seed.

    InternationalCollaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability (ICAFIS) in Vietnam
  • Selva Shrimp Aquaculture Improvement Program in Vietnam

    Selva Shrimp is an unique aquaculture improvement program for silvofishery small-scale shrimp farming in southeast Asia. Shrimps are raised in small channels within the forest, with no feed or chemicals. Mangrove forests are maintained in order to provide habitat and food. The Selva Shrimp program has been designed to address challenges of intensification of the shrimp farming industry and to increase pressure on natural resources that traditional silvofishery systems face in southeast Asia. Moreover it aspires to create a solid foundation for improvement and maintenance of silvofisheries. The project aims to reach 3,000 MT of responsibly produced shrimp through the implementation of Selva shrimp, ASC or organic certification.

    Blueyou Consulting