MEKONG DELTA – With many localities in the Mekong Delta mandating social distancing to combat COVID-19, selling and distributing seafood has become difficult, causing many fishing boat owners to suspend operations.
Many seafood traders in Kiên Giang Province said social distancing and travel restrictions were disrupting seafood supply chains and causing prices to fall.
Trần Văn Phinh, a fishing boat owner in Cà Mau Province, said his two boats have stopped going out to sea since it is difficult to sell their catch and there are not enough people to crew them.
Kiên Giang has the largest number of fishing vessels measuring six metres or more in the delta, 9,861.
But only about 30 per cent of fishermen who work on boats are local, and the rest travel from other places.
Phan Văn Khánh, a boat owner in Kiên Giang Province, said: “Strict social distancing makes it very difficult for fishermen to travel. Therefore, my fishing boat is unable to go out to sea because there are not enough crew members.”
The number of fishermen who have quit due to fear of contracting COVID is worsening the shortage.
The high cost of COVID testing is also hindering fishing activities.
Trần Văn Nam, a seafood trader in An Giang Province, said it now takes five days for a boat to transport seafood from Kiên Giang to An Giang compared to a maximum of three days previously, while the cost has doubled.
“The cost for a rapid COVID-test is nearly VNĐ3 million for his workers and valid for only three days. Many boat owners or traders have stopped buying due to the high test cost.” – VNS