Mass fish deaths in Quang Binh coastal province (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has requested relevant ministries, agencies and localities to take comprehensive measures to deal with mass fish deaths along the central coast.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Science and Technology was asked to coordinate with competent agencies in mobilising scientists, even foreign experts, if necessary, to promptly figure out the causes behind the fish deaths, ensuring they are done objectively and scientifically.

The Ministry of Public Security will focus on collecting documents and evidence relating to this case and strictly punish any violations found in conformity with legal regulations.

The PM urged the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to work with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the People’s Committees of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces to calculate damage and give timely support for affected people.

MARD and the Ministry of Heath will instruct the localities collect and treat dead fish to ensure environmental hygiene, he said, adding that any dead fish transport and business activities are banned.

The agricultural ministry will coordinate with relevant ministries and sectors to guide the localities and residents how to breed, catch and use fish in a safe manner.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is responsible for providing official information on the case for press agencies.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung had a working session with leaders of Ha Tinh province on the incident.

He had a conclusion after the meeting which said between April 6-18, a significant number of sea fish and farmed fish was found dead along beaches in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and ThuaThien-Hue provinces without reasons, causing great economic losses, negatively affecting the environment and fishing and seafood processing activities, and stirring worries among the public.

Right after the incident, relevant ministries and agencies have proactively checked the situation and taken fish and water samples to identify root causes. They have also organised the collection of dead fish and taken environmental treatment measures, as well as provided fishermen with suitable fishing and breeding solutions to stabilise their lives.

To date, the situation has basically been stabilised, with fish deaths decreasing and environmental hygiene ensured, he said. While waiting for the answer to the causes, the MARD must guide the localities and residents in restoring production and fishing activities while the Ministry of Information and Communications will direct press agencies to provide accurate, objective and full information on the case, helping ease the public’s worries, he said.

He urged the affected provinces to instruct businesses, factories and production facilities based in their areas to strictly abide by legal regulations on environmental protection, actively review the operation of their waste treatment systems, and report to competent agencies any environmental incidents for timely response.

On April 28, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha together with representatives from the Vietnam Academy of Science and the Nha Trang Institute of Oceanography and scientists had a field trip to the waters where dead fish was found and inspected waste discharge facilities of the Formosa Ha Tinh Corporation. They took water and sediment samples there for examination to determine whether water is contaminated with heavy metals and deal fish affect people’s health.

Minister Ha frankly admitted shortcomings and limitations in coming up with the causes behind the mass fish deaths, saying that this was a very big and serious environmental disaster that has occurred in Vietnam for the first time, resulting in slow response by relevant ministries and agencies.

He promised that the State management agencies will do their utmost to clarify the fish death causes with a sense of justice and in a scientific manner.

The Vietnam Fisheries Association Central Committee has also sent a document to the Government Office, the Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Finance, and Industry and Trade, asking for efforts to determine how long toxic chemical residues exist in land and sea water.

The committee suggested the Government and relevant ministries and agencies arrange forces to collect dead fish as well as take practical measures to restore fishing activities and related industries, and support affected aquatic breeders and fishermen.-VNA