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Agriculture ministry orders snail crackdown

Update: November, 02/2013 - 10:27

Golden nails have become an invasive species, with their population growing exponentially, damaging rice and other aquatic plants nationwide. -- Photo baocongthuong.com.vn

HCM CITY (VNS)  — Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Cao Duc Phat has asked municipal and provincial People's Committees to strengthen inspections and punish violations relating to breeding, transporting and distributing golden snails.

The administrations should order their departments of Agriculture and Rural Development to take all actions needed, Phat said.

They should also urge local media to raise awareness among local people about the harm golden snails cause to the agricultural sector and of actions that increase the spread and profusion of golden snails, he said.

The breeding and selling of golden snails in many provinces and cities nationwide, especially in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, has picked up recently.

In the Delta, traders buy snail meat, which has been boiled and removed from the shell, for VND18,000 a kg.

Golden snails have been imported into Viet Nam to use as food and animal feed since 1994.

However, they have become an invasive species, with their population growing exponentially, damaging rice and other aquatic plants nationwide, especially in the Cuu Long Delta.

The Delta, the country's rice granary, has favourable living conditions for the golden snails, which begin laying eggs when they are 100 days old and can live up to five years.

As long as purchases go up, farmers will also increase breeding the snails, heightening the risk for the agricultural sector, local officials have said.

The Cuu Long Delta is in the annual flooding season and the golden snails can lay their eggs over a large area, they said.

In the first 10 months of the year, the snails have damaged about 10,000ha of rice nationwide, according to the agriculture ministry.

Nguyen Xuan Hong, head of the ministry's Plant Protection Department, trading in golden snails violates Government Decree 26/2003, as golden snails are a foreign invasive species and their breeding is banned in Viet Nam.

The current situation of people breeding and trading in the invasive species has happened because there is limited awareness among locals about the harm they cause to the agricultural sector, Hong said.

Current administrative punishments imposed for violations was small and would not deter violators, he added.

Hence, the fines will increase from the current VND2 million (US$95) to VND12 million ($570) beginning from November 20, Hong said. — VNS


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