Aquaculture North America

Vietnamese imports likely not a challenge, but import market bears watching, says NAA director

March 1, 2024
By Matt Jones

In late 2023, the Government of Vietnam announced they were aiming to make US$9.5 billion in 2024 through aquaculture exports. In early January they announced that 99 additional aquaculture establishments had been licensed for exports. 

Before anyone starts to panic over the potential impacts of Vietnamese aquaculture products on the market, however, it should be noted that the vast majority of those 99 export licenses were specifically for exports to Korea, China, and the European Union. Only one was for exports to the United States. 

Moreover, as National Aquaculture Association Executive Director Paul Zajicek pointed out, most U.S. aquaculture production is fairly insulated from the impacts of imports – typically, he says, importers and domestic producers are focused on different species.

That said, Zajicek feels there needs to be a broader conversation regarding food imports in general. He cites a recent USDA report which showed U.S. agricultural exports in 2024 are projected at US$169.5 billion, while projections show agricultural imports at US$200 billion – if the projections are accurate, the U.S. will become a net importer of agricultural products for the first time in decades.


Zajicek says that realization impacted him tremendously and he hopes it will spurn more conversations about what priority Americans put on their food production.

“Earlier in the year, the Department of Homeland Security came out with a report about risks and they pointed to aquaculture as a potential answer – not a solution, but a contributor – to producing protein in a very sustainable way in the U.S.,” said Zajicek. “That was a nice report to see, but it’s not front-page news anywhere. It’s not quite a crisis yet, so you’ve got to really work at this and convince people this is serious stuff.”

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