Seafood processing plants in the Mekong Delta are suffering from a shortage of catfish, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Producers and Exporters said.
Ngo Phuoc Hau, a VASEP executive, said the shortage is being caused because many catfish breeders have closed down due to various reasons.
For the first two months of the year, the processors managed from their stockpiles from 2010, but they have now run out.
Farmers are unable to procure catfish juveniles though their price has increased to VND50,000 per kilogram.
Breeders have been hit by their inability to obtain bank loans, high feed prices, bad weather, and dirty water.
The only source of catfish supply for exporters now are their own farms and large farms who can absorb the losses, Hau said.
However, soon government institutes in the region will have to provide high-quality brood fish for farmers, he added.
Meanwhile, global catfish prices have shot up 30 percent since the last quarter of 2010. Exports to the EU and US are now fetching $3.2 and $4 per kilo.
Despite the scarcity, VASEP has set an export target of $1.5 billion for catfish this year, 6.6 percent up from last year, due to increased prices.