The fishing and aquaculture output of Vietnam’s Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Kien Giang has topped 836,200 tonnes this year, 10.8 per cent higher than the target, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Fishing accounted for more than 572,000 tonnes.

Quang Trong Thao, deputy director of the department, said the province has restructured the sector to reduce near-shore fishing and expand off-shore fishing.

The province has strengthened advocacy to enhance fishermen’s awareness of protecting fishery resources and penalises people who violate fishery exploiting and protecting regulations, he said.

The province is entering the natural ark clam and yellow clam harvest season and is stepping up measures to protect the species from overexploitation.

The harvest will be done from now until May next year.

Only fishing boats of less than 12m in length have been granted licences to catch the clams, and they have to be equipped with sufficient tools to comply with catching regulations. The department has instructed relevant agencies and localities to tighten inspection over the activity and penalise violators.

In Kien Giang, ark clams and yellow clams are found mostly off the coasts of Kien Luong district and Ha Tien city.

Thao said the province catches hundreds of tonnes a year for both domestic consumption and export.

The province has zoned areas for farming aquatic species, especially shrimp and other high-value ones, Thao said.

It has strengthened fishery extension activities and taught farmers advanced farming techniques, especially for shrimp.

The shrimp yield with advanced methods is 30-50 tonnes per hectare per crop compared to 10-12 tonnes under traditional farming methods, according to the department.

The province has developed industrial shrimp breeding models using semi-biofloc and biofloc technology, and a model of breeding in two stages to increase yield.

Under the latter, juvenile shrimp are first bred in a small pond for a few weeks before being transferred to the main pond for intensive breeding in the second stage.

In 2016-2019, the department set up 44 sites for farmers to visit and learn.

The model offers an average income of 280 million dong ($12,000) per hectare per year.

The province has developed industrial shrimp breeding in the Long Xuyen Quadrangle and turned low-yield rice fields into rice-shrimp farming fields in which farmers cultivate the grain during the rainy season and breed shrimp the rest of the time.

The province, the delta’s largest rice producer and one of the largest shrimp producers, has 100,000ha under rice-shrimp fields this year, 28 per cent higher than in 2015.

Danh Man, who has a 3ha field in An Bien district’s Dong Yen commune, said he earned 180 million dong this year from it.

“After switching to rice-shrimp farming, my family’s income has been steady,” he said.

Nguyen Van Hong of Go Quao district’s Vinh Thang commune said when he grew only rice on his 1ha field, his income could not cover his family’s living costs but now, after switching to rice-shrimp, he earns 70-80 million dong a year and has escaped poverty.

The model is adapted to climate change and sustainable since farmers use few chemicals.

The rice and shrimp produced are clean and preferred by consumers.

Go Quao district has turned more than 2,700ha of rice fields into rice-shrimp fields, pineapple farms, pepper fields, and fruit orchards in the last five years.

Le Huu Toan, its People’s Committee deputy chairman, said the district has created concentrated aquaculture areas with the application of advanced farming techniques and diverse models for breeding various species such as black tiger shrimp, white-legged shrimp and giant river shrimp together in a single pond.

The value of the district’s aquaculture production has increased from 418 billion dong in 2015 to 636 billion dong this year.