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Geographical indication protection of “Văn Chấn” for commercialized wattle-necked softshell turtle

On 23 November 2020, Intellectual Property Office of Viet Nam has issued Decision no. 4520 /QĐ-SHTT on granting Geographical indication registration certificate no. 00089 for “Văn Chấn” commercialized wattle-necked softshell turtle. People’s Committee of Văn Chấn district, Yên Bái province is the organization in charge of managing this GI.

Wattle-necked softshell turtle of Văn Chấn is a reputable product of Văn Chấn district, Yên Bái province. It is told that in the early 1990s, some fishermen in Cát Thịnh commune, Văn Chấn district went to Phà stream to catch wild softshell turtle. They could not eat all of the turtles caught so they brought the leftover turtles back and nurture them in the ponds near the stream in the back of their houses. After a while, Văn Chấn locals saw that the turtles developed well and were able to reproduce in the pond environment, they began gathering wild turtles for commercialization. From observation, the local people noticed that the turtles had spine-like blisters on their shells and the edges near the neck, therefore they called those turtles “spine-shell turtle” (the local name for wattle-necked softshell turtle), replacing the old name “stream softshell turtule”.

In 1993, local people of Văn Chấn district have applied the nurturing technique for regular softshell turtle for the commercialization of wattle-necked softshell turtle. Since then, the commercialization of wattle-necked softshell turtle has been established in Văn Chấn district. After a long period of development, nowadays, aside from domestic markets, Văn Chấn wattle-necked softshell turtles are also consumed in China.

Văn Chấn wattle-necked softshell turtle has thin and brown-light gray body. Its belly has black spots, the softshell is flat and 6 - 10cm wide. When the turtle is lifted, the softshell does not hang down. Văn Chấn wattle-necked softshell turtle meat is low fat, firm and crispy. When cooked for a long time, the shell does not become squishy and does not dissipate.

A: the hard shell, B: the softshell

 

The low fat characteristic of Văn Chấn wattle-necked softshell turtle is shown in the low Lipid content of 0.5 – 1.0 g/100g of meat, which is lower than wattle-necked softshell turtle nurtured in other areas. Also, comparing to wattle-necked softshell turtle of other areas, the turtles of Văn Chấn has higher Protein and mineral content, specifically at 20.5 - 21.0 g/100g of meat, and 5.4 - 5.6 g/100g of meat respectively.

The peculiar characteristics and quality of Văn Chấn wattle-necked softshell turtle mentioned above are thanks to the natural geographical conditions and the traditional production customs.

Văn Chấn is a mountainous district of Yên Bái province. It has a dense system of streams, in which the most major streams are Phà and Lao streams, comprised of minor streams such as Ngòi Nhì, Nậm Tăng, Nậm Mười, Nậm Đông, and Hợp Thành.

In other areas, water used for nurturing wattle-necked softshell turtle is from irrigation ditches and wells and not changed regularly. However, in Văn Chấn, the custom is using the water from streams originating from limestone mountains with high inclination. Therefore, the water is regularly changed, and it is clean and cool year round (the average temperature of water in nurturing ponds is 23.5oC). Thus, Văn Chấn wattle-necked softshell turtle has a moderate feeding activity, grows slowly but the meat is firm and has less fat. Mineral-rich water also contribute to the fast formulation of the hardshell, and the softshell is also harder. As a result, when the turtle is lifted, the softshell does not hang down. Moreover, the minerals in the water lead to the high mineral content in Văn Chấn turtle meat.

The use of stream water also results in the high oxygen level in pond water (in the range of 3.2 – 4.5mg/l and averages at 3.9 mg/). The water is uncontaminated, especially the lower level of Hg and As in the water. As such, wattle-necked softshell turtle nurtured in Văn Chấn is less susceptible to diseases comparing to other areas’.

Furthermore, this custom reduces the need for covering the water surface with water hyacinth, approximately 50% for wattle-necked softshell turtle nurturing pond in Văn Chấn. On the other hand, in other areas, as the water is not regularly changed, in order to improve the dissolved oxygen level, the ponds need to be covered more (using water hyacinth to cover approximately 70% of the pond surface).

Văn Chấn wattle-necked softshell turtle nurturing pond

 

The firm and low fat meat of Văn Chấn wattle-necked softshell turtle is also thanks to the feeding technique. While wattle-necked softshell turtles in other areas are fed industrial feed and butcher’s byproducts, the turtles in Văn Chấn are mostly fed with worms, fishes, snails, shellfishes. Therefore, the turtles grow slower but the meat is firmer, less fat and crispy. When cooked for a long time, the shell does not become squishy and the meat does not dissipate.

Geographical areas: the communes of Minh An,  Nghĩa Tâm,  Thượng Bằng La,  Tân Thịnh,  Cát Thịnh, and the townships of Sơn Thịnh and Trần Phú plantation of Văn Chấn district, Yên Bái province.

 

Center for Examining Geographical Indication and International Trademark