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Overfishing cuts into villagers' livelihoods in Central provinces

Update: November, 18/2013 - 09:14

KHANH HOA (VNS) — Fishermen in the central coastal provinces of Khanh Hoa and Binh Thuan are using illegal methods to catch fish near shore, harming marine life and causing environmental pollution.

Binh Thuan Province currently has over 200 large-capacity ships, none of which has permission to harvest near-shore sea products, according to provincial Chief Inspector of Fisheries Le Thanh Binh.

However, many of them are breaking the law to cast nets close to the coast. Their persistent overfishing of shrimp, crab and other fish puts the area's marine resources at risk of exhaustion, Binh said.

They also put locals in danger.

Vo Van Suc, a fisherman in Hoa Thang Commune in the provincial Bac Binh District, fell into the ocean when the small bamboo basket he was using to catch snails was overturned by a large ship.

Moreover, the overfishing is a serious blow to the approximately 200 households in Tan Thang Commune who subsist mainly on sea products caught near shore, according to unofficial statistics from local authorities.

The province's Fisheries Department has punished 124 ships for illegal fishing since 2010, according to local authorities.

In Khanh Hoa Province, Le Van Dung, Chief Inspector from the Agriculture and Rural Development Department, told Nguoi Lao Dong (The Labourer) that six large-capacity ships had recently been caught illegally fishing near shore in the provincial Cam Lam District and given a fine of VND2 million (US$95) each.

"As many as 20 large ships often operate close to the coast. They swept our fishing nets away and their discharge pulse wiped out the area's aquatic resources," said a fisherman in Van Long Commune in Khanh Hoa Province.

Other ships use a stainless steel device to catch clams, muddying the water and causing further environmental pollution.

"The muddy water situation seriously damaged nearly 100 cages of lobsters belonging to my family. Lobsters were ill and dozens died every day," said Nguyen Chi Lem, a fisherman and lobster breeder in Van Thang Commune.

The province lacks inspectors and equipment to carry out patrols, which would be especially difficult because the large ships operate in a wide range along the coast, Dung said.

Additionally, the ships often operate by night, according to Dao Van Luong, Head of the Agriculture and Rural Development Department in the provincial Van Ninh District.

Van Ninh District People's Committee Chairman Le Huu Tri pointed out that the individuals working in the ships were doing so because they lived in disadvantaged circumstances, so they should be encouraged to raise aquatic products such as snails and lobsters rather than engaging in illegal fishing. — VNS

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