Marine environmental incident in central region (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh has urged four localities affected by marine environmental incident last year to accelerate the disbursement of compensation and complete the process by June 30.

He made the request at the eighth meeting of the Steering Committee on stabilising the lives and production of people in four central coastal provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue, which were affected by marine environmental incident caused by Taiwanese firm Formosa in April 2016.

Following the Government’s direction, the four provinces established inter-sector teams to inspect and supervise compensation for affected local people.

Binh asked the ministries of Health, and Natural Resources and Environment and relevant agencies to continue supervision on seafood and seawater quality in the four central provinces.

The health minister is responsible for testing seafood quality on the seabed, comparing it to safety indicators from other neighbouring localities and international reference points.

“If the fish are not safe for consumption, fishermen must be banned from catching fish from the seabed”, he said.

The Deputy PM also assigned the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to conduct inspections on Formosa in terms of waste water, emissions and solid waste, while working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to review the recovery of eco-systems in the central coastal provinces to implement projects serving marine economic growth and tourism.

The Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of National Defense were requested to work to ensure order and security in the four central provinces.

According to the report by relevant agencies at the meeting, aquatic production, tourism and local livelihoods have gradually stabilised.

The number of fishing boats going offshore has increased. As many as 70-80 percent of the vessels operating near the coast have resumed operation, while the figure is 80-90 percent for offshore fishing boats.

Seafood exploitation output in the first quarter of this year reached 25,386 tonnes, a decline of 8.8 percent compared to the same period last year.

The total fish raising output of the four provinces in the first three months this year was more than 6,200 tonnes, an increase of 3.12 percent year-on-year.

The seafood business has resumed, however, business facilities still face challenges related to infrastructure and capital during the recovery process.

The mass fish deaths were first reported on April 6, 2016 when a large number of fish washed ashore in Ha Tinh province. The incident also occurred in Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.

About 70 tonnes of dead fish were found in the four provinces and Thua Thien-Hue alone reported 35 tonnes of farm-raised fish had died.

The pollution also affected more than 260,000 people who earn their living from the sea.

In June last year, Formosa accepted responsibility for the fish deaths and pledged compensation to local fishermen and to help renew the polluted marine environment.-VNA