Tho Chu Island, where the Khmer Rouge troops carried out a bloody massacre of 500 residents 38 years ago, is moving to become a sea ecotourism destination and a farming area of high-quality aquatic creatures.

Covering nearly 14 square kilometres, the island is the biggest in the Tho Chu archipelago, about 200 kilometres off the coast of the southern province of Kien Giang.

Part of Tho Chau commune, Tho Chu Island houses the communal administrative centre and holds a special strategic position of being near international maritime routes in the East Sea.

According to Chairman of the Tho Chau Commune People’s Committee Tran Hoang Nghiem, nearly 2,000 people of 500 households are living across the island.

They make a living mainly from fishing, fish farming and logistics. In 2013, they produced 850 tonnes of dried cuttlefish and fish netted by their fleet, which now numbers 40 vessels, and sold them abroad.

As many as 98 percent of children on the island attend school, but there are 10 percent of the local population still living under the poverty line.

Communal roads, fresh water reservoirs and farm produce markets have been built to make life easier for local people, who can go to the mainland only by boat.

The island has completed nearly half of the 19 criteria required for the building of new-style rural areas.

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Pham Van Huy, deputy head of the military unit stationed on the island, said his soldiers and officers have assisted local people to prosper from the sea along with their task of safeguarding national sovereignty in the southwestern continental shelf.

They have paid special attention to helping local authorities maintain security, protect the environment and manage forests while supporting local fishermen with search and rescue activities when the sea is rough.

In 2013, military doctors provided check-ups for 1,300 local people and performed such operations as caesareans and appendicitis removal.

All together, residents, soldiers and officers on the island today are working for a peaceful life and wealth from the sea.-VNA