Nguyen Thi Tinh, ignoring the taboo in the fish sauce village, showed off her new fish barrels, where anchovies were being salted to create a kind of genuine fish sauce which Tinh would register to obtain the geographical indication certificate on Phu Quoc fish sauce trademark.
Geographical indication – the solution for Phu Quoc fish sauce
Pointing to the fish barrel from which the drops of extraction of fish sauce were leaking, Tinh said that this was one of the 10 fish sauce barrels she has registered for the geographical indication certificates. The 10 fish sauce barrels are 1/8 of the total barrels that Tinh’s Thanh Quoc Company was making.
Not only Thanh Quoc, but many other big workshops like Khai Hoan and Hung Thinh in Phu Quoc district were taking hectic preparations to launch the bottles of Phu Quoc fish sauce with geographical indications.
The trademark registration and protection for geographical indication in both Vietnam and the world market has finished with the support of the EC through the Multrap 3 project. However, genuine Phu Quoc fish sauce products with geographical indications still have not been marketed for some reasons.
The fish sauce makers in Phu Quoc well understand that the geographical indication would be the only way to protect Phu Quoc fish sauce and regain its position on the market. This would not only help preserve and develop the fish sauce making career descended by the ancestors, but also help keep the national spirit and the “culinary elite” of Vietnamese cuisine.
The predestined tie between Vietnamese fish sauce and western wine
According to Ly Van Nhan, Deputy Chair of the Phu Quoc fish sauce management board, the project on developing the brand with geographical indication has been sponsored by a French famous liquor group, which has also given technical assistance.
After two years of working with the support of French experts, in 2010, the regulations on the control over Phu Quoc geographical indication for fish sauce product was completed and recognized in both Vietnam and in the world.
In September 2010, the Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Management Board was established, which is in charge of verifying the quality of fish sauce and granting the geographical indication stamps to the products which can satisfy the standards.
The Phu Quoc village has become more bustling, and fish sauce workshops have been hurrying with their production plans.
The workshops now follow very strict production process. All the salting fish barrels are given codes which bear the strict control by the members of the management board. All the details about the production phases, materials and technique are recorded and put under a strict control.
Every bottle of genuine Phu Quoc fish sauce with the geographical indication labels will have its code which allows consumers to trace down the origin of products. Especially, it can point out which barrels the fish sauce comes from.
The last obstacle
According to Tinh, she has to gather all of the company’s strength to set up a big fishing ship with all necessary equipments, so that it can catch fish with tuna nets and to ensure the traditional fish marination process which has been applied for the last many generations.
Meanwhile, Khai Hoan, which does not have fishing boat, has bought a 250 ton ship to collect materials to ensure that it can collect fresh fish and the fish salted in accordance with the procedures set up by the company.
One of the reasons which makes Phu Quoc fish sauce with geographical indication labels still not being available on the market–is the requirement on the histamine content which must be below 200 mg per liter.
The problem is that the anchovy sources on the Phu Quoc sea area are getting exhausted. As the nearby fishing grounds do not have enough fish. People now have to go further to catch fish, which makes it difficult to keep fish fresh.
Therefore, Tinh said protecting the traditional anchovy fishing grounds is the thing that needs to be done immediately.