The Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) division relies heavily on its in-county representatives, who act as a link between the BAP management and market development teams and local farmers and processors. Once such representative is Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh Binh, who’s based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In addition to acting as the BAP representative in Vietnam, Mrs. Binh is a professor at the Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City and has been involved in aquaculture since childhood.

q60a0912GAA: You’re not a newcomer to aquaculture. In fact, you’re second generation. Explain your family’s involvement with Vietnam’s aquaculture sector. What attracted you to the aquaculture sector?

Mrs. Binh: My parents taught at Nha trang University (formerly Nha Trang Fishery University), which was founded in 1959 and considered as the first university specializing in aquaculture in Vietnam. My father was a well known professor in aquaculture and his students are working in aquaculture sector now — some are government officers, and some are experts in aquaculture. I was familiar with the terms broodstock, postlavae and juvenile as a child, as I visited many aquaculture farms and hatcheries. I enjoyed fishing for tilapia in black tiger shrimp ponds. My friends often say that aquaculture is in my blood. My father used to hope that I would enroll in the aquaculture program at his university. But I chose the seafood processing technology program where my mother taught. After my parents passed away, I naturally felt that I should focus on the aquaculture sector to continue in my father’s footsteps.

GAA: Prior to joining GAA, you were a food-safety auditor for processing plants. At the time, how did you perceive the value of the BAP seafood processing plant standards, and what separates them from other GFSI-benchmarked standards?

Mrs. Binh: I have almost 10 years experience in food-safety auditing of processing plants. The most valuable part of the BAP seafood processing plant standards is that it not only implies food safety but also focuses on sustainability issues such as social responsibility, environmental protection and traceability. Beside that, the BAP seafood processing plant standards do not stand alone; seafood processing plants can link to other certified facilities in the whole supply chain under other BAP standards such as the BAP hatchery and nursery standards, BAP finfish and crustacean farm standards and BAP feed mill standards.

GAA: You’ve had a busy 12 months. What have been the highlights for you?

Mrs. Binh: I enjoyed presenting at GAA’s GOAL 2014 conference in Ho Chi Minh City as part of the “Celebrating Vietnam” program. It was a great opportunity to highlight the progress that Vietnam’s aquaculture sector has made in the past 10 years. I’ve also enjoyed working with the Viet Nam Pangasius Association (VNPA). This month, GAA and VNPA signed a memorandum of understanding to work collaboratively to advance responsible aquaculture in Vietnam’s Pangasius sector.

GAA: What opportunities and challenges do you see for Vietnam’s aquaculture sector in 2015?

Mrs. Binh: Vietnam has very good conditions for developing its aquaculture industry. And, in fact, Vietnam’s aquaculture industry has developed very quickly. As a result, Vietnam is very well known globally for producing and exporting aquaculture products. However, this may lead to unsustainable development. Diseases such as early mortality syndrome (EMS) have affected Vietnam’s aquaculture industry over the last two years. But, in 2014, thanks to the efforts of Vietnam’s government and aquaculture industry, it seems that EMS has subsided here.

GAA: You are also actively teaching at the Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City. What message do you want share with the next generation of aquaculture leaders?

Mrs. Binh: In a nutshell, aquaculture is a very important sector within the entire seafood supply chain. Sustainable and responsible development is the only way for the aquaculture industry to be successful globally. Aquaculture leaders need to continue to work hard, and they can rely on continuously improving standards like BAP to ensure that they reach their goal.