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Mystery clam deaths in Delta prove costly for local farmers

Update: March, 20/2013 - 09:58
Farmers harvest clams in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang's Go Cong District. Local farmers have suffered substantial losses over the past month. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai

TIEN GIANG (VNS)— About 14,000 tonnes of clams from 1,200ha of farms have died from unidentified causes in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tien Giang's Go Cong District within one month.

The loss is estimated to be about VND200 billion (US$9.5 million) for local farmers.

Dang Van Lan, 84, a clam breeder, told Nong thon ngay nay (Countryside Today) that he had never seen clams die en mass like that within 25 years. He lost 150 tonnes of clams, from 8.2ha of farm.

Le Hoang Viet, head of the district's Agriculture and Rural Development Department, said the dead clams account for up to 70 per cent of total clams farmed in the region.

Salinity and temperature at the clam farms are believed to be meet standards following initial inspection by the provincial Fisheries Department.

Local farmers suspect environmental pollution may be the cause.

The provincial agriculture sector has taken samples of dead clams for tests to quickly discover the cause.

Meanwhile, local farmers who raise marble goby (Oxyeleotris marmorata) have suffered big losses due to a sudden fall in prices in southern Ca Mau Province.

Nguyen Van Quy, a local farmer, said last year a marble goby fetched VND405,000 ($19), but this year it was worth only VND200,000-220,000.

Ma Huy, deputy director of the provincial Agriculture and Fishery Extension Centre, said local farmers should not enlarge their goby farms.

"They have to invest a lot of money for the farms, so they take high risks when the output for the goby is unsustainable," he said.

Thousands of farmers broadened their goby farms this year due to a bumper crop last year. Traders who bought the goby at lower prices are blamed for the present crisis. — VNS

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