May 05, 2016
Tons of dead fish and marine life have washed onto beaches and bays in four central coast provinces of Vietnam since early April, prompting panic, outrage and protests. The four provinces affected are Ha Tinh, QuangBinh, Quang Tri and ThuaThien Hue.
Fishermen journeying three miles out to sea returned to shore reporting massive number of dead fish. The central coastline is 125 miles long and many of the fish washing up include rare species that live far offshore in deep water.
“We have never seen anything like it,” said marine scientist Dr. Nhu Van Can, PhD at a media conference this week. His colleagues from the Marine Bioscience Engineers from the Laboratory of Aquaculture and Artemia Reference Center in Belgium are working to determine the cause of the disaster.
Fishermen who normally sell their catch daily and weekly to locals, restaurants, canneries, and farmers are in dire straits as they wait for answers and solutions. In the meantime, the fish washing up are being buried and residents have been told not to sell or cook any fish that are not live.
Hanoi has dispatched teams of environmental experts to investigate the phenomenon, the Ministry of Environment said in a statement posted online this week. “We must quickly establish whether the fish have died because of environmental pollution,” said environment minister, Tran Hong Ha.
The central provinces have sprawling economic zones, with numerous industrial plants, including a multi-billion dollar steel plant run by Formosa, a Taiwan company.
Formosa has a mile-long underwater pipeline which is being monitored. Officials have suggested Formosa link the pipeline to an automatic monitoring station launched by the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
Farmed shrimp, clams, catfish and wild-caught tuna are among the largest exports of Vietnam, bringing over $6b USD last year.