Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — One year after the devastating marine environmental incident caused by the toxic spill, fishing and aquaculture activities have for the most part returned to normal, stated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) yesterday.
Vũ Văn Tám, MARD deputy minister, reiterated the ministry’s conclusion that the “sea is now clean,” and announced that a recent field trip by a working group to the four affected provinces in the central region found that fishing activities have resumed normally, particularly offshore fishing activities, which have resumed 70-80 per cent.
However, Tám noted that the outlook for near-shore fishing wasn’t as positive, while sea bottom fishing was halted for the time being, as per Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hoà Bình’s order yesterday.
One "welcomed" result, Tám added, is that total output from fishing in the four provinces was only down 8.8 per cent compared with the same period in the previous year. He said this March, particularly, was considered "a successful season," citing the haul of 150 tonnes of fish by a farmer in Quảng Trị Province, helping fishermen regain confidence.
Aquaculture production also recovered well, with only Hà Tĩnh and Quảng Bình posting a lower output against the same period last year, even as total output of the four provinces stayed almost the same as last year.
Fish processing, however, showed slower recovery compared with fishing and production.
MARD said all unsold aquaculture products, since consumers feared the risk of contamination, have been classified – safe products can continue to be sold at markets, the ones that were deemed unsafe were all destroyed, and the new and fresh batches “are selling well”.
The MARD deputy minister said the ministry is deploying fisheries control forces to the four provinces to help guide and advise fishermen to not fish near the sea floor as the toxic pollutant remnants at this level were not yet ascertained. Further, a halt of sea bottom fishing would give time for the coral reefs and marine ecosystem to recover.
Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh was found to have discharged untreated toxic waste into the central region sea, which led to fish deaths on an unprecedented scale early last year. The company issued a public apology, agreed on a compensation package of US$500 million for the affected population and promised to restore the marine environment.
Formosa asked to ensure environment’s integrity
Yesterday, a joint task force made up of the central province police and border guard asked steel company Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh (FHS) to ensure public order and protect the environment before and after its furnace blast No. 1 becomes operational.
FHS was asked to better manage its employees, workers and construction contractors, and prevent incidents that can lead to protests or strikes.
The contractors have been told to pay workers’ salaries and other benefits “in a timely manne”. In addition, strict oversight must be maintained regarding who comes in and out of the FHS complex.
FHS said it would cooperate with relevant authorities and the public in monitoring its activities as well as the indices of environmental factors in the company’s vicinity. It also pledged to follow Vietnamese law on production and trade.
Previously, a government inter-sectoral committee – comprising 11 representatives from ministries, Hà Tĩnh People’s Committee and scientists – held a meeting to review the consequences of the toxic spill caused by FHS and agreed to let the company pilot the operation of a blast furnace.— VNS