Traditional fish sauce craft village facing risks of production stoppage

For the past few months, production facilities in the traditional fish sauce craft village of Phan Thiet in Phan Thiet City in the South-Central Province of Binh Thuan, one of Vietnam's oldest and most famous fish-sauce making villages, have been getting fidgety because the supply of anchovies for production is in serious shortage.
Traditional fish sauce craft village facing risks of production stoppage ảnh 1 Empty fish sauce containers at Ba Hai fish sauce factory 
Currently, dozens of fish sauce production facilities are having hundreds of empty fish salt containers, the traditional fish sauce craft village has been facing risks of production stoppage, and the supply of traditional fish sauce products is in danger of being disrupted in the area.
In the context that the consumption of traditional fish sauce is increasing strongly when the country’s economy in general and tourism, in particular, recover after the pandemic, the shortage of fish for fish sauce production is alarming as scores of fish sauce production establishments in Phan Thiet city have been awaiting fish supply.
From the beginning of the year until now, about 40 percent of the fish sauce containers at Ba Hai traditional fish sauce factory in Phu Hai Ward in Phan Thiet City has been empty because there is no source of anchovies for the production of fish sauce, a staple found on tables up and down the country.
Owner of Ba Hai fish sauce factory Nguyen Huu Dung moaned that staff in the establishment have traveled many places looking for fish, but their efforts have been unrewarded as fishermen refused to go to sea. At present, any salt container that withdraws all the fish sauce has to leave it empty, seriously affecting the facility’s production.
Similarly, for nearly a year now, due to the disruption of anchovies supply, Ngoc Dinh traditional fish sauce establishment in Ham Tien Ward in Phan Thiet City has had to empty nearly 200 salt containers out of a total of about 400 salt containers.
Mr. Huynh Duc Ngoc, the owner of the establishment, said that Phan Thiet's traditional fish sauce is made entirely of anchovies. However, from August 2021 until now, the facility has not been able to purchase the special fish, so the facility can only supply the market until the end of this year.
According to the traditional fish sauce establishments in Phan Thiet, every year, the establishments often expect the fish season and the codfish crop to purchase raw materials for production. However, this year, both crops are in short supply of anchovies.
Chairman of Phan Thiet Fish Sauce Association Truong Quang Hien, said that up to now, the association has about 44 production facilities that sell about 20 million liters of fish sauce in the market each year. However, the shortage of anchovies is seriously affecting this famous fish-sauce-making village with a history of more than 100 years.
Mr. Truong Quang Hien pointed out the main reason for the shortage of anchovy supply in the past several months is due to the increase in prices of petrol, and labor which makes fishermen afraid to go to the sea to catch.
On the other hand, unfavorable weather also makes anchovies less likely to appear, and the fishing productivity is not high. Currently, establishments only have to wait for the upcoming July anchovy crop to hope to be able to fill the salt roofs in time to supply the market next year.
The Phan Thiet Fish Sauce Association said that the rising cost of going to sea has greatly affected the fishing activities. Therefore, he petitioned that the government needs to consider having policies and support costs as a motivation for fishermen who are willing to go to sea to supply seafood for many industries, including the traditional fish sauce production.
Vietnam is now home to 1,500 fish sauce manufacturers; among which 35 specialize in making fish sauce for export.

By Nguyen Tien - Translated by Anh Quan

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