Vietnam Proposes Plan to Tackle Mass Fish Deaths

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
13 May 2016, at 1:00am

VIETNAM - The Ministry of Planning and Investment has recommended five key actions to address the mass fish death incidents along central coastal provinces from early last month.

First, authorities in provinces where the incidents occurred should continue to oversee the collecting and treating of dead fish. Any activity relating to the trade, usage or processing of the dead fish should be banned, reports VNS.

Secondly, relevant agencies were urged to speed up studies to identify the cause of the incidents. The State budget should provide funding to hire foreign experts to join the investigation.

Third, the Government must take drastic measures to address the aftermath including strict punishment to polluters, transparent information about the incident and its impact, as well as measures to help the fishing, seafood processing and tourism industries recover.

Fourth, localities in affected areas make statistics over losses that fishermen suffered due to the incidents and submit Prime Minister for timely Government’s assistance. State bodies and local residents must regularly observe, detect and report unusual signals of environment.

Lastly, fishermen are urged to halt breeding and stop using seawater for breeding until the causes of the mass fish deaths are identified.

Also, the Ministry of Science and Technology announced that a national scientific council was established to examine the mass fish deaths.

Almost 100 experts from more than 30 research institutes and universities nationwide joined to analyze the incident. Hundreds of samples of dead fish, water and other creatures have been taken from April 7 for testing.

According to the ministry, initial findings showed that the mass fish death in the four central coastal provinces from Hà Tinh to Thua Thiên Hue was not related to disease, oil leaks, thermal shocks or other effects caused by earthquakes.

Biological and chemical causes are thought to be to blame.

Deputy General Director of Viet Nam Environment Administration Hoàng Van Thuc said that a group of overseas experts yesterday morning arrived Vung Áng Economic Zone in central Hà Tinh Province to investigate the mass fish deaths.

They will independently assess waste treatment of firms that release waste into sea in provinces of Hà Tinh, Quang Bình, Quang Tri and Thua Thiên Hue.

Their work will be independent from studies conducted by State agencies in Viet Nam.

Thuc said that they would report to the Prime Minister once the causes were determined.

Early last month, the incident killed thousands of fish and caused financial and environmental damage to fishermen and people living in the coastal provinces. The cause is unconfirmed as yet, but many Vietnamese suspect pollution from a steel plant operated by a subsidiary of the Formosa Plastics Group.

In a meeting on April 27 between relevant ministries and scientists, which was the first meeting about the case between central and local managing bodies and scientists, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment told media that they had identified two possible groups of causes for the massive death of fish recently.

The first potential cause was the impact of poisonous chemical substances discharged by humans from the mainland or in the sea. The other was an abnormal natural phenomenon combined with human impacts, resulting in red tide.