What are our findings after having visited eleven shrimp farms in Vietnam?
Approximately 400 billion shrimps are farmed each year, with this number set to increase with the intensification of global aquaculture production due to the 'blue revolution'. Little concern has been given to shrimp welfare, with many of these animals often suffering from poor water quality, rampant disease, inhumane slaughter methods, and practices such as eyestalk ablation (crushing or cutting off at least one of the eyestalks of female shrimps to induce rapid reproduction).
This report discusses the welfare of shrimps, why we chose Vietnam as a scoping country
and our findings after having undertaken water quality measurements on shrimp farms
and discussions with several stakeholders in the shrimp supply chain. We wish to make clear that this data represents 11 farms that we visited, in the Mekong Delta region and during a specific period of time (November 2022). It is not intended to be representative of all shrimp farms in Vietnam.
We identified four main categories of shrimp farming production in Vietnam, which differ in stocking density, pond structure, species stocked, and average production volume. In general, semi-intensive, intensive and super-intensive farms managed water quality well, with basic water quality parameters falling within the required and/or optimal ranges. Although very few farms monitored water quality on a daily basis, the farmers who owned intensive and super-intensive farms were very confident that they maintained water quality well.
All of the farmers that we met did not know if the hatcheries where they bought fry performed eyestalk ablation, and they did not seem to care about this issue. We received differing opinions among stakeholders on whether eyestalk ablation was still being practiced in Vietnam.
Regarding slaughter methods, shrimps were either put in a cold water tank and transported to processing plants alive, or put in ice slurry right after harvesting and weighing. The reason to keep shrimps alive before reaching processing plants was that they could be sold at a better price, especially for exports. In the domestic markets, we noticed that shrimps and prawns that were sold in wet markets and to restaurants could also be transported alive and kept alive in small containers in-store.
In addition to eyestalk ablation, we identified claw ablation, another poor welfare practice that has been well established in Vietnam. Claw ablation is commonly done on M. Rosenbergii (commonly called giant river prawns or giant freshwater prawns) to induce growth.
All of the farmers agreed that disease is a common and most serious issue in the industry.
Farmers received various kinds of technical assistance, mostly from feed and medicine companies and more experienced farmers.
We identified various cultural and social challenges that should be mindful of when working with the shrimp farming community in Vietnam.
Water quality measurements were undertaken by staff of the Research Sub-Institute For Southern Hau River Fisheries (Phân viện Nghiên cứu Thủy sản Nam Sông Hậu), a branch of Research Institute for Aquaculture no. 2 (RIA2), to whom we are very grateful.
Please click the link below to access the full Vietnam Scoping Report: