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Aquaculture Puts Rot on the Cuu Long Delta

CUU LONG DELTA, VIET NAM A leader in rice, seafood and fruit production, the region is now in danger due to the rapid expansion of the aquaculture sector.

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta is in dire need of scientific, technological and administrative measures to stop the growing pollution in the area, according to experts.

Huynh Van Hoang, head of the Southern Institute of Science and Technology, said as the country leader in producing rice, seafood and fruit, the regions agriculture is the first sector affected by the environment pollution.

The rapid development of aquaculture in recent years has worsened environmental pollution in the delta as most waste from aquaculture activities is released directly into rivers and canals, according to the Southern Environment Protection Department.

Mud and water from aquaculture activities in the delta generates 456 million cubic metres of waste a year.


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"It is impossible for the delta not to develop industry but industrial development must be combined with environmental protection"
Huynh Van Hoang, head of the Southern Institute of Science and Technology

Experts warn that when the quantity of aquaculture-related waste exceeds the capacity of the deltas fresh water resources, the ecological balance would be tipped, leading to even more serious water pollution.

Moreover, households in the delta release 600,000 tonnes of solid waste and 102 million cubic metres of wastewater annually.

The deltas 12 provinces and one central-run city have more than 12,700 companies and 197 industrial parks and industrial complexes. They collectively release 47.2 million cubic metres of industrial waste water and 220,000 tonnes of solid waste a year.

Most industrial wastewater is not treated as industrial parks do not have a consolidated water treatment system.

"It is impossible for the delta not to develop industry but industrial development must be combined with environmental protection," Hoang said.

Monitoring investment projects in the past has not been demanding, as several projects with outdated technology were granted licences, experts say.

Several industrial parks generally focus on attracting investors and ignore environmental protection.

According to experts, research on the environment and technology should be applied to treating household and industrial waste and other toxins.

A project to support companies using advanced technology for production and waste treatment would be welcome, experts say.

The Southern Institute of Science and Technology is hosting a seminar this month to collect scientists opinions on solutions for pollution in the region, said Hoang.

"Based on their opinions, the institute will look into a plan for treating pollution in the delta," he said. "Priorities will be given to research measures to protect the environment around industrial parks."

Ellen Hardy

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