Pangasianodon hypophthalmus

Governance and Outlook


Governance systems play an important part in ensuring environmental sustainability, and whilst these have evolved rapidly with the growth of the industry, there are differences between regions and countries. Poor governance can result in industry stagnation, the spread of preventable diseases, environmental damage and opposition to aquaculture activities by local communities and groups such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Key governance responsibilities are ensuring environmental assessment and decision making processes are in place for sensitive and coastal ecosystems, which help deliver sustainable aquaculture whilst managing possible adverse impacts. Other regulatory and governance aspects should cover aspects such as water abstraction and discharge, health monitoring, and so forth.

Four principles – accountability, effectiveness and efficiency of governments, equity, and predictability of the rule of law – are necessary for effective aquaculture governance. These principles should guide the administration, legislative and regulatory framework of aquaculture. In addition to governments, other stakeholders such as communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and producers should also be involved in industry governance1.

Pangasius farming is almost exclusively undertaken in developing Asian countries where governance systems have been evolving rapidly and have been influenced by foreign pressures, especially with regard to international food safety and quality standards2, 3, 4.


Many countries in Asia-Pacific have made efforts to set up policies, administrative, legal and regulatory frameworks to develop and manage aquaculture. Overall, Asia-Pacific regional countries enjoy established strong aquaculture governance structures (policies, institutions, regulations, etc.) in support of sustainable development and management of aquaculture at all levels.

In some of the countries that have made conducive policies, implementation is delayed by the lack of financial and skilled human resources. Policies and regulations may be enacted, but unless there are sufficient government personnel with adequate skills and financial resources to monitor and enforce them, they will remain ineffective. Almost all countries in the region now require licensing to practice aquaculture. All commercial aquaculture establishments must undertake Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) or Initial Environmental Examinations (IEEs) and register with the authorities before starting to farm. As aquaculture governance has improved and production increased in the region, many products have found markets internationally.

Whilst regulations have been created or tightened, the most important development has been the increasing uptake of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and certification schemes. The use of independent third party international certification schemes within pangasius aquaculture has been growing6, 7, 8; seeking to promote and instil responsible aquaculture practices in the industry via individual farm certification.


In Vietnam the Institute of Fisheries Economics and Planning (VIFEP) is responsible for strategic planning for aquaculture, such as the establishment of zones for aquaculture and high-tech processing. Specific plans have been created including: aquaculture development in the Mekong River Delta towards 2020; aquaculture development in Vietnam reservoirs to 2020; and a national plan on development of aquaculture to 2020.

Other recent developments include: a review of the planning of pangasius production and marketing in the Mekong River Delta to 2020; supporting system for decision making for sustainable aquaculture in the Mekong River Delta; and research on the scientific basis of ecological zoning adapting to climate change in aquaculture in the Mekong River Delta9.

Other pangasius producing countries have similar governance in place, whilst some are still evolving.



Several strong inter-governmental agencies have been established in support of general aquaculture development in Asia-Pacific. Dedicated international and regional agencies provide technical and financial assistance for the development and better management of the aquaculture sector in the region. Many countries in Asia-Pacific have also established private or semi-private aquaculture associations and partnerships focussing on overall aquaculture development and/or specific aspects such as trade. Many bilaterally assisted programmes have also contributed to this endeavour and these efforts are continuing.


Whilst pangasius production appears to have stabilised in the last 4-5 years, the sector is likely to develop further; Vietnam’s annual pangasius target is 1.5-2 million tonnes by 202010. It is probable that there will be further industry consolidation and vertical integration leading to larger, more efficient producers, and a greater adoption of certification schemes11.

NGOs have also contributed; for instance the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership operates Aquaculture Improvement Partnerships (AIPs). The Vietnamese Pangasius AIP aims to reduce or mitigate the potential cumulative impacts of pangasius farming on a zonal level with producers, suppliers and buyers working together to address sustainability issues12.

The Vietnamese government, Vietnam Fisheries Society (VINAFIS) and the Vietnam Association of Exporters and Processors (VASEP)13 assisted by other bodies such as Vietnam Pangasius Association (VPA)14 committed to certify 100% of farmed pangasius by 2015, with at least 50% under ASC15.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Developments (MARD)16 has also developed ‘VietG.A.P’ which is based on many of the GlobalG.A.P. aquaculture standard’s criteria. VietG.A.P is intended to raise standards in Vietnamese aquaculture and be a stepping-stone to attain international certification. MARD stated that from 2015 it was obligatory to apply the VietG.A.P standard in pangasius farming. It intends to have 80% of intensive/semi-intensive Vietnamese aquaculture certified VietG.A.P by 202017.


  1. FAO
  2. Belton, B. et al, 2011. Certifying catfish in Vietnam and Bangladesh: Who will make the grade and will it matter? Food Policy 36 (2011) 289–299
  3. CIRAD
  4. Bush S.R. and Duijf, M., 2011. Searching for (un)sustainability in pangasius aquaculture: A political economy of quality in European retail. Environmental Policy Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Geoforum 42 (2011) p185–196
  5. FAO
  6. ASC
  7. GAA
  8. GG
  9. Vietnam Institute of Fisheries Economics and Planning (VIFEP) - official brochure, 2016
  10. VASEP
  11. Trifković, N., 2014. Certified standards and vertical coordination in aquaculture: The case of pangasius from Vietnam. Aquaculture 433 (2014) p235–246
  12. SFP
  13. VASEP
  14. VPA
  15. WWF
  16. MARD
  17. Global GAP