Vietnam: Ecosystem in environmental incident-affected provinces recovers

Vietnam Net 20 Sep 16;

Indicators relating to the sea water quality in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces are mostly within allowable limits, with the contents of iron, phenol and cyanide declining remarkably, heard a conference in Hanoi on September 20.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) said it has worked with relevant agencies to conduct a monitoring programme to assess the quality of sea water in the eight central provinces from Thanh Hoa to Quang Nam on April and May, contributing to defining the reason behind the recent environmental incident in the central coastal region.

In June, the ministry coordinated with the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology in determining the level and scale of pollution and marine ecological degradation caused by the environmental incident. More monitoring activities were carried out in August to define the phenol content in sea water in affected areas.

The results showed that the ecosystem of coral reef and sea grass, and marine resources in affected areas have shown positive signs of recovery, while tests on seafood samples revealed reductions in the content of pollutants.

The MoNRE concluded that thanks to the strict control of waste discharged by Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Company and the environment’s self-cleaning mechanism, the content of pollutants has decreased over time.

The quality of sea water at all the monitored areas is in the allowable range of the standard set by the MoNRE and meeting requirements for safe beaches, water sports, aquaculture and aquatic conservation.

Tests for over 1,000 samples of aquatic products taken from fishing ports and boats and aquaculture areas in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue every day showed that aquatic products at breeding areas and those living in the surface water in the localities are safe.

Meanwhile, crab, shrimp, shellfish, skate, octopus and others in the benthic layer within 13.5 nautical miles from the shore are not safe.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has intensified campaigns to help people identify safe seafood while directing relevant agencies and sectors, and all-level authorities of the provinces to ensure the use and exploitation of seafood in line with directions of the ministries.

In the coming time, the MoH will work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to periodically monitor seafood caught in the provinces’ waters in order to ensure food safety and protect the health of the people.

The MARD also recommended fishermen not catch in areas including Son Duong in Ha Tinh, Nhat Le in Quang Binh and Son Cha in Thua Thien-Hue, and in the benthic layer within 20 nautical miles from the shore in the four localities.

Monitoring will be conducted in fishing ports and samples for testing will be taken at the time immediately aquatic products are brought ashore from fishing ships.

A large number of dead fish along the coast was first discovered in Ky Anh township, Ha Tinh province on April 6, then spread to Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces.

It is estimated that some 15 tonnes of natural fish and 2 tonnes of farmed fish died in Ha Tinh province. Meanwhile, in Thua Thien-Hue, some 30 tonnes of natural fish died and were washed up on beaches.

In late June, Formosa Ha Tinh accepted responsibility for the mass fish deaths. The pollution damaged about 400 hectares of coral and affected over 260,000 people who earn their living by working at sea.

The company pledged to compensate over 11.5 trillion VND (500 million USD), which will be used to support local fishermen in changing their jobs and recover the polluted maritime environment. It also vowed to deal with shortcomings and limitations in waste and wastewater treatment.