Technical support from Czech Government to aquaculture in mountain areas of Vietnam

Project "Support of freshwater fish farming in mountain areas (Vietnam)” was funded by Czech Government with a total of about 10 billion Vietnamese dong (Czech-Ria1 project). The project was implemented by Institute of Tropics and Subtropics of the Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague and Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 1 from August 2008 to November 2010. The objective was to introduce sustainable approach in freshwater fish production in the reservoirs of the provinces of Lang Son and Cao Bang. The project has since been extended until December 2011.


                    Reservoir fishing training course at Ban Nua. Photo: Bui The Anh

In project area, five fisheries cooperatives, which have aquaculture activities in small-sized reservoirs ranging from 12 - 18ha were selected. They were Hop Thinh in Cao Loc district and Na Pia in Van Lang district both belonging to Lang Son and  Na Tau and 1 - 4 in Hoa An district and Ban Nua in Ha Quang district both belonging to Cao Bang. 

The main project activities were scheduled as follows: aquaculture potential analysis (2008), selection of Coop’s and capacity building for Coop's members, implementation of demonstration farming systems and transfer of technologies (2009), promotion of fish farming system, support for capture fisheries and marketing (2010-2011). 

During the four year of implementation, the Czech-RIA1 project has achieved good results. Environmental and fish meat quality assessments showed that the products produced in this area are according to EU standards. Though some reservoirs had some content of heavy metals caused by the local geology, but still within the safety range of human health. There are about 30 freshwater fishes caught in the river basins of Ky Cung River and Bang Giang River mainly belonging to following orders Anguilliforms, Cypriniforms, Perciforms and Siluriforms. The project also supported to identify impact of the exotic South American species (cá Trôi trường giang) Prochilodus lineatus also known as Curimbata or streaked prochilod. This organic mud eating species was recently introduced via China but has already achieved high biomass production in natural water bodies, which may cause serious impacts to the ecosystems. The findings were given to the Department of Capture Fisheries and Resources Protection to put this species in the checklist. 

In the northern mountain areas of Vietnam, culture-based fisheries have been considered as a sustainable development approach. For now more than 10 years RIA1 has had good achievements in research and in supporting people in this region. Recommendations were given to the local people including suitable stocking density based on the environmental and nutrient conditions of the water bodies, and selecting of good cultured species. This has e.g. led to improvement in harvesting by 20% of catch from culture-based species.


Cage culture technique was also transferred to the Coops including a suitable cage design having many advantages, e.g.: durability, easy to make and move, low investment using local materials (bamboo), as well as transfer of techniques in grow-out culture, fry to fingerling rearing and integrated fish-duck culture. The cá Lăng chấm Hemmibagrus guttatus was tested first in the bamboo cages however, the preliminary results were not promising, but then it was found that a local grown cá Lăng chấm from the Pearl River basin (China) had different growth features to the RIA1 cá Lăng chấm from the Red River basin (Vietnam). Therefore, it is recommended to use this local grown fish in fish seed and broodstock selection for the future.

                                         Cage culture is expanded in Na Tau Coops, Hoa An, Cao Bang
                                                                  province. Photo Bui The Anh

The project also introduced the Coops to worm culture to solve or use the manure from cattle and other sources. Two earthworm species Perionyx excavatus and Eudrilus euganaie were used. After a few months of culturing, the Coops could produce it by themselves, especially some Coops developed larger scale production with more members joining in. The worms have been used as feed for the cá lăng chấm in the cages and in other activities of Coop's members.

Capture fisheries improvement and marketing are other priorities of the project. Meetings between Coops, middlemen and professional fishers were organised to discuss about market needs and other trading activities. The project tested a Pneumatic Net Lift designed by the Czech experts. However, there are still some improvements needed before it can be disseminated; therefore, the project introduced the ‘Joint fishing method’, which was applied successfully in reservoirs in the 70s.

A socio-economic survey in the project areas showed that: 

-          The main problem of aquaculture was the unpredictable water levels in the reservoirs and the relatively high fish mortality.

-          Cooperative members confirmed the improvements in fish production achieved through the training activities of the project.

-          Cage culture contributed significantly to their total income.

Cooperative members agreed that they will continue with the aquaculture and they would like to expand the cage culture into a larger scale.

The project brought together experts from different countries that worked together for success and enhancement of livelihood of local people in target area. The Czech - Vietnamese team took advantage of the friendly atmosphere that resulted in fruitful cooperation.

                             Bui The Anh, Nguyen Thi Lan Anh, Nguyen Quang Thai and Petra Holikova