Defense Ministry asked to monitor sea water after mass fish deaths

By Toan Dao   May 4, 2016 | 10:50 am GMT+7
Defense Ministry asked to monitor sea water after mass fish deaths
Dead fish along the central coast. Photo by Duc Hung

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has sent a letter to the Ministry of National Defense asking it to assign its Naval Center for Marine Environment Monitoring and Analysis to join efforts to monitor sea water following the mass fish deaths along the central coast.

Units under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology have also been asked to work with the Ministry of Natural resources and Environment, the ministry said in a statement released earlier this week. It added that the proposals were made following directions from the prime minister.

The units will provide information about the quality of sea water in central provinces from Ha Tinh to Thua Thien Hue.

In a meeting on May 1, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the provincial government in Ha Tinh to set up a monitoring station to evaluate wastewater discharged from the Formosa steel plant. Scientists from the United States, Germany and Israel have also arrived in Vietnam to help identify the reasons behind the mass fish deaths.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has told the provincial governments of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue to provide daily updates on the fish deaths, including: action that is being taken, results of investigations, sea water monitoring data, estimated economic and environmental damage and the number of fish deaths, the ministry said in another statement on May 2.

Since early April, about 70 tons of fish in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien - Hue have washed up dead due to an unknown cause. On April 27, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said there are two possible reasons for the mass fish deaths.

One is toxic chemicals released by human activities. The other is an abnormal natural phenomenon that causes algae in the water to bloom at an accelerated rate, commonly known as a “red tide”.