Nha Trang fish sauce producers hit by anchovy scarcity

Many traditional fish-sauce producers in Khanh Hoa Province were reportedly in despair as they are facing a severe shortage of materials.

Nha Trang Fish Sauce Association currently has 35 members who produce fish sauce in the traditional way and provide tens of millions of liters of fish sauce to the domestic and international markets. The main ingredient to make traditional fish sauce is anchovy. However, this year, anchovy has become scarce, sending fish sauce producers into a flurry.

Statistics show that, every year, fish sauce producers in Nha Trang produce more than 20 million liters of fish sauce and require about 15,000 tons of anchovies. However, until now, they said that they have just bought less than 10 percent of the required amount of fish. In order to have fish to produce fish sauce, producers have looked everywhere but still failed to meet requirement, some were not even able to find any fish at all.

Nguyen Hoai Son, director of Chau Son Private Company, said that his company needs 800 tons of anchovies each year, but this year, it only managed to buy a few tons of anchovies. Thus, two thirds out of 60 fish tanks of the company were left empty and the company has been perfunctorily operating on the amount of anchovies it stockpiled since last year.

Mr. Son also said that despite a shortage of anchovies, his company dares not buy other kinds of fish because it will affect the quality of the fish sauce.

Experiencing the same situation, 584 Nha Trang Fisheries Joint Stock Company was also able to buy 5 percent of 8,000 tons of anchovies it needs to produce 10 million liters of fish sauce, accounting for one tenth compared to the same period last year.

Do Huu Viet, director of 584 Nha Trang Fisheries Joint Stock Company, and chairman of Nha Trang Fish Sauce Association, said that earlier traders from other provinces brought fish to the company to sell to them, this year, on the contrary, the company had to go to Quang Tri, Nghe An, Thanh Hoa, and Ninh Thuan Provinces but still failed to find any fish.

Due to scarcity of anchovy, some fish sauce producers had to buy other kinds of fish, causing the quality of fish sauce to drop which will seriously damage traditional Nha Trang fish sauce brand name.

According to firms, a scarcity of anchovy was because fish catching declined. In addition, a huge amount of anchovies was sold to companies who produce dried anchovies for export. Although the price of anchovy rose by more than 30 percent, there was still no anchovy to buy. This situation led to stagnation in production, more unemployed workers, and a drop in fish sauce supply. Many fish sauce producers in Nha Trang will possibly be fined for failure to fulfill their contract.

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