Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan speaks at the press conference (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – More systematic and methodical studies are needed to identify the cause of recent massive fish deaths in central coastal localities, said Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan.

Speaking at a press conference in Hanoi on April 28, Nhan said his ministry has worked with relevant agencies, sectors and authorities of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue, where the phenomenon occurred, to make surveys and investigations in order to determine the exact causes of the situation.

He added that the problem, which has happened in many places in the world, is a complicated matter that needs time, sometimes years, to solve.

While the issue attracts great attention from the public who want an early response, the search for the accurate answer must be based on scientific evidence and methodical research, Deputy Minister Nhan said.

Earlier the same day, the MoNRE chaired a meeting with experts from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, domestic and foreign scientific research agencies, and Professor Yashuwo Fukuyo from Japan’s Tokyo University to discuss and evaluate results of surveys conducted so far.

According to Deputy Minister Nhan, based on reports from ministries, localities and scientists, the participants came to the conclusion that there are two main factors that may cause the massive death of fish. One of which is the impacts of chemical toxics discharged from humankind’ activities on land and at sea, and the other reason is red tide, which is one type of harmful algal bloom.

“To date, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that activities of the Formosa company and others projects operating in Ha Tinh province are related to the fish deaths,” the deputy minister stated, adding that State management agencies will continue to conduct intensive investigations into the issue.

He affirmed that Vietnam never accepts exchanging the environment for economic development. “Economic development must go in tandem with environmental protection,” Nhan said, stressing that s trict punishment will be applied to any violations in line with Vietnam’s laws on environmental protection.

The deputy minister noted that recorded measurement data and evaluation conducted by related scientific establishments and State management agencies showed no marine environment indices have surpassing the acceptable levels.

The Ministry of Science and Technology will cooperate closely with domestic and foreign scientific research agencies to conduct necessary studies of the incident.

Relevant localities should organise the monitoring of coastal water quality, thus giving recommendations for tourism activity in the region, he added.

A large number of dead fish along the coast were first discovered in Ky Anh township, Ha Tinh province on April 6, then spread to Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.

Over the past two weeks, it is estimated that some 15 tonnes of natural fish and 2 tonnes of farmed fish have died in Ha Tinh province. Meanwhile in Thua Thien–Hue province, some 30 tonnes of natural fish died and were washed up on beaches.

On April 24 morning, a dead whale was found on a beach in central Thua Thien-Hue province.-VNA