Many fishermen in the Mekong Delta region have complained that the ban on catching baby fish in local rivers during the rainy season has been implemented ineffectively, failing to protect marine life and seriously affecting their income. — Photo tuoitre.vn
AN GIANG – Many fishermen in the Mekong Delta region have complained that the ban on catching baby fish in local rivers during the rainy season has been implemented ineffectively, failing to protect marine life and seriously affecting their income.
Nguyễn Hữu Hải, a fisherman in An Giang Province’s Vĩnh Hội Đông Commune, told Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper that the provincial authority has banned all fishing activities on the Tiền and Hậu rivers between early June and late August. The ban aims to protect species, such as blue-legged shrimps and cyprinid fish from being eradicated during the rainy season.
Since early June, Vĩnh Hội Đông Commune’s People’s Committee has seized three fishing nets installed illegally by local fishermen. However, Hải said, the authority’s ban until the end of August is too long and unnecessary.
Hải said he had been fishing for seven years, and the best time to catch fish is from mid-July when water levels at local rivers rise significantly due to heavy downpours. This year, local fishermen will only be allowed to install their fishing nets in September. By that time, cyprinid fish which have gotten old will fetch VNĐ6,000 less per kilo than the high-season prices of VNĐ40,000 -50,000.
Hải said the local authority should allow fishermen to use nets with a mesh size that enables small and young fish to escape, instead of banning fishing entirely for such a long period. This would help ensure fishermen’s income and protect biodiversity.
Mai Phước Hùng, another fisherman in Phú Hội Commune’s An Phú District, said local residents had abandoned their fishing nets and tools to obey the ban. He himself left nets and tools worth VNĐ100 million ($4,400) in storage.
Nonetheless, Hùng said, small blue-legged shrimps and cyprinid fish are found in the markets in abundance because authorized agencies ignore violations of the fishing ban by other fishing households.
Responding to the complaints, Lâm Quang Thi, vice chairman of An Giang Province’s People’s Committee, said the ban had been imposed every year and this year it stipulated specific sizes of fish and ban time. "The ban is only aimed at curbing overfishing and protecting the livelihood of local fishermen," he said.
The provincial committee has urged local authorities to strictly inspect compliance with the ban and fine violators.
Addressing claims of the ban’s ineffectiveness, Trần Anh Thư, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said inspection teams mainly focused on large-scale fishing activities because of their impact on marine biodiversity. Inspectors would tighten control of small-scale fishermen to ensure the compliance with the ban, he promised. So far, six people have been fined for using small-sized nets to catch baby fish.
Thư said he agreed that fishermen could suffer loss due to the imposed pause of their fishing activities, but added that most households earn their living by doing other seasonal jobs.– VNS