Vietnamese rainbow trout farming has great future potential through own breeding programme Farmers must be responsible in transporting eggs and live fish

Vietnamese rainbow trout farming has been on a steady state of growthfor a half decade. In the early 2000’s there were no cold-water aquaculture, in 2009 twelve cold-water fish farms were in operation in Northern and Central Highlands, and today more than 100 farms are producing cold water fish.

There are still suitable locations to be taken into farming in the mountainous areas of northern and central parts of the country. The Vietnamese breeding programme for rainbow trout in RIA-1’s Research Center for Cold Water Aquaculture in Sa Pa, Lao Cai (RCCA) has, however, a key role in aiding the intensification and enlargement of the production. Currently the farms would need about 2,000,000 eggs / fry / year to, but RCCA as the main provider of locally adapted rainbow trout eggs/fingerlings is only capable of supplying about 400,000 fingerlings / year.

In addition, both flooding (water pollution, fish health issues and loss of infrastructure) and dry season affect the annual fish productionin the high mountains. Due to the impact of climate change the cycle of continuous rain and floods are becoming more irregular. The seasonal availability of water affects both the eggs/fingerlings production and broodstock maintenance as well as harvest size production. The lack of eggs and the shortage of fingerlings force the producers to rely on foreign import which is difficult, expensive and creates serious fish disease risk. Similarly, while the market is demanding larger quantities of harvest size of cold-water fish, the lack of stable and logistically feasible location of fish farms is hampering the progress.

Currently these challenges are tackled by Vietnamese-Finnish cooperation increasing RCCA’s capacity for future production (fingerling production, selective breeding program and disease management) and environmental sustainability via building a pilot clean-tech recirculation system based on Finnish design.

Vietnamese national breeding population of rainbow trout has successfully established in RCCA during Finnish-Vietnamese cooperation (ICI project). The fish in RCCA originate from the Finnish rainbow trout strain named JALO (giá trị gia tăng in Vietnamese). In comparison with its Chinese and American rivals, JALO performed best in the Vietnamese field tests. .JALO has been selectively bred for over twenty years in Finland, and currently JALO trout is growing about 50% faster and with about 15% less feed needed than the base population. The prospects of the selective breeding programme in Vietnam are even more promising because the generation interval of rainbow trout in Vietnam is only two years compared to 3 years in Finland. Figure 1 shows the advance in growth and feed conversion ratio in selective breeding programme based on the results of the Finnish breeding programme.


Figure 1: Relative improvement of growth and feed conversion ratio through selective breeding programme during 8 generations. In Vietnam the generation interval is only two years compared to three in Finland, and thus the gain per generationis achieved even faster.

The future of Vietnamese rainbow trout farming is promising: the capacity of the breeding programme will be greatly enlarged through the present Vietnamese investment in recirculation of water in RCCA. In ordinary fish farming the water is flowing through the farm only once. In recirculation the water is used several times and the amount of water needed for the production of e.g. liter of eggs is only some percent in comparison with ordinary farming.

However, farmers/companies do not buy eggs or fingerlings from a source with reputation of nasty infections. The prevention of infectious diseases in RCCA is thus of prime importance for the future of the Vietnamese rainbow trout farming. Infections can be transmitted by several ways, but by far their most important way is along with live fish, live eggs and transportation tools. Live fish transportation to the farm is of course the most dangerous way, but Finnish experience has shown the spread e.g. IPN-virus can occur even tens of kilometers to both wild and farmed fish at downstream. RCCA is the crown jewel of Vietnamese rainbow trout farming and strict biosecurity measures must be implemented in the farm and its water sources. One good risk avoidance strategy is to spread fish material from breeding nucleus to other stations. These fish work both as test and reserve populations for breeding.

Vietnamese rainbow trout farming is dynamic and profitable. To keep it as such, care is needed in buying new material. The farming in Vietnam is not self-sufficient, yet. Therefore, the development of good quality with disease free hatcheries on the basis of eggs from RCCA must be a goal for the coming years. The new recirculation system (RAS) in RCCA will be very usefulin this. The importation of eggs to Vietnam from safe sources is the way to go before the self-sufficiency is achieved. Worst thing to do is to smuggle live fingerlings. Those can bring any infectious disease to the country. It is not only like playing with fire with the future of the own farm but the whole cold water farming sector may be threatened. The transportation of live fish inside Vietnam is very vivid and will remain so in the foreseeable future.

Picture 1: Selective breeding program for Rainbow trout in RCCA – Sa Pa, Lao Cai

Vietnamese own rainbow trout will show best growth performance and feed conversion ratio in Vietnam only after a few years. This will be due to the breeding programme, which develops a strain specifically adapted to for Vietnamese circumstances. One of the main traits improved together with growth and health is temperature tolerance, i.e. adaptation of fish to grow well both in mountains and in lower areas with more steady but also warmer water sources. In order to get full profit of this, biosecurity in the industry must be an over riding goal in the coming years. From 28 to 30 November 2016, the workshop “RAS technology and Selective Breeding- Sustainable solutions to adapt with effects of climate change in Vietnam” was held in Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam to review ICI project’s results and opportunities for cooperation between Finland and Vietnam in the future.

Perttu Koski, Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, Fish Disease Expert

Tran Thi Kim Chi, Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 1 (RIA-1), Head of Aquaculture Environment and Disease Unit of Reseach Center for Cold Water Aquaculture, Sa Pa, Lao Cai

Harri Vehviläinen, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Expert in Rainbow Trout Breeding

Ngô Phú Thỏa, Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 1 (RIA-1), Vice Director of National Freshwater Broodstocks Centre (NBC)


Other news:

News on