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Farmers disagree with Chà Và fish death report

Update: October, 20/2016 - 18:05
Dead fish in a cage on Chà Và River in southern Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province. – VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Nhị
Viet Nam News

BÀ RỊA-VŨNG TÀU – The reason for the huge number of fish deaths in Chà Và River, in Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province’s Long Sơn Commune, was prolonged heavy rain, the provincial People’s Committee said.

Officials arrived at the conclusion at a meeting between the provincial People’s Committee, the natural resources and environment department, local authorities and affected households and made the announcement yesterday.

Heavy, continuous showers led to a sudden drop in the amount of saline and dissolved oxygen in the river water and killed fish, they said. Local agencies had collected water and fish samples to identify the cause.

Between October 10 and 15, 254 tonnes of farmed fish from 90 households in Long Sơn Commune died, causing an estimated loss of VNĐ29 billion (US$1.31 million). Most of the fish were pomfret and cobia, and all were almost large enough for sale.

Fish farmers have opposed the conclusion, saying that in all their years of fish breeding, it’s not as if this year received the highest amount of rainfall, for such a drastic effect.

Instead, farmers blamed the six seafood processors in neighbouring Tân Hải Commune for the fish deaths. These units have been discharging waste water and polluting the river for the past two years, they alleged.

On October 13, farmers laid out all the dead fish on Highway 51 in Vũng Tàu City in protest and demanded compensation from these enterprises.

Fish farmers want a dyke built to separate the waste water and the local drainage system so that contaminated water does not flow into the river.

Trần Văn Cường, deputy director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the department has asked provincial authorities to make a list of affected households so that they can be offered supportive policies such as debt expansion and breeding baby fish.

The department has also asked the committee to urge agencies to complete the construction of a seafood processing area in Đất Đỏ District quickly and move seafood processors out of residential areas. Work must be completed by the first quarter of next year, he said.

This is the sixth time since 2015 that fishermen in Long Sơn Commune have suffered losses from massive fish deaths. The most serious incident occurred in September 2015, when 33 households lost VNĐ18 billion ($900,000). Fish breeders sued the firms for compensation, but so far only two of the companies have given the farmers compensation. — VNS

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