Deputy PM urged central localities to complete compensation to locals hinh anh 1Four central localities were seriously ravaged by Formosa-caused sea environmental incident in April 2016 (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh has urged the four central coastal localities affected by the recent environmental incident to thoroughly complete compensation by June 30 this year, thus moving to support their livelihood and recover maritime environment.

He made the request at the seventh meeting of the Steering Committee on solutions to stabilise the living and production of locals in four provinces - Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue, which were ravaged by the incident caused by Formosa company in April 2016.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam, the People’s Committees of the four affected provinces have distributed the third prepayment for compensation to all districts and locals.

They approved over 4.528 trillion VND (198.92 million USD) out of 5.28 trillion VND (232.37 million USD), or 85.8 percent of compensation pre-paid by the Prime Minister. As of April 24, the provinces disbursed 4.244 trillion VND (186.6 million USD), equivalent to 93.7 percent of the approved amount and 80.4 percent of the total advanced payment.

Ha Tinh distributed 1.129 trillion VND (49.29 million USD), while Quang Binh allocated 1.98 trillion VND (87.13 million USD), Quang Tri 460.9 billion VND (20.28 million USD) and Thua Thien-Hue 579 billion VND (25.48 million USD), said Tam.

The Health Ministry reported that it took samples for test of a total of 5,369 tonnes of seafood (excluding a number of products such as jellyfish, fish sauces, dried and frozen seafood) gathered from April to August 2016, while the four working groups reported a higher amount of over 6,912 tonnes, surpassing the Health Ministry’s figure by over 1,543 tonnes.

So far, the provinces destroyed nearly 1,104 tonnes of under-qualified seafood in storage, while they have paid 50 percent of the value of the ruined seafood.

Production and living conditions of locals in four provinces are basically stabilised, said Tam, adding that marine resources have been recovered. As many as 70-80 percent of the vessels operating near the coast have resumed their operation, while 80-90 percent of offshore fishing boats also restored their production.

In the first quarter of this year, total catching in the localities was 25,386 tonnes, a fall of 8.8 percent over the same period last year, he said, adding that their farmed aquaculture production was 6,279 tonnes, a rise of 3.12 percent.

After considering the provinces’ request for nearly 768 billion VND (33.79 million USD) of additional compensation, the MARD proposed the Prime Minister to pay 30 percent of the stocked frozen seafood meeting food safety requirements.

The ministry also asked for approval on the destruction and compensation of 100 percent of the value of the rotten jellyfish, and dried seafood stored in coastal localities at an estimate cost of 377.448 billion VND (16.61 million USD).

Deputy PM Truong Hoa Binh approved the compensation for the seafood being kept at coastal localities that has not been tested by the Health Ministry.

However, the compensation must be implemented in an open and transparent manner, he said.

He assigned the chairmen of the people’s committees of the four provinces to take the responsibility on the accuracy of the beneficiaries as well as quantity and scale of compensation, while reviewing and reporting exact foundation proving the seafood was gathered within April and August last year.

He asked the Ministry of Finance to supervise the work.

The Deputy PM also requested the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to continue guiding localities to gather samples for evaluating sea water quality in the four localities, while keeping close watch on the operation of Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh.

The MARD was asked to continue collecting seafood, seawater and sediment samples for testing, serving the direction of aquaculture and salt production and exploitation.

At the same time, the ministry was urged to send fisheries surveillance forces to coordinate with and support the four localities in strengthening patrol and guiding fishermen not to exploiting seafood in seabed of waters about 20 nautical mile off the coast from Ha Tinh to Thua Thien-Hue.

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 provinces.

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 mass fish deaths and pledged compensation to local fishermen and to help renew the polluted marine environment.-VNA