The Vietnamese government has asked four central provinces hit by an environment disaster linked to Taiwanese steel conglomerate Formosa to uphold a fishing ban within 20 nautical miles of the coast as the environment needs more time to recover, Tuoi Tre reported.
Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh gave the instruction at a meeting this week, referring to the no-fishing zones demarcated by the agriculture ministry last August, four months after the disaster caused by Formosa’s steel plant made global headlines.
Binh asked authorities in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue to uphold the ban until the health ministry concludes that seafood from the area is safe and that marine resources have recovered, the report said.
Deep water fish within 20 nautical miles of the central coast is deemed unsafe. Infographic by VnExpress/Viet Chung
An estimated 70 tons of dead fish washed up ashore along more than 200 kilometers (125 miles) of coastline in April last year, in what was considered Vietnam’s most devastating environmental disaster.
Inspections found Formosa’ steel plant in Ha Tinh had discharged waste containing phenol, cyanide and iron hydroxides into the water, harming sea life and local economies dependent on fishing and tourism.
The company has already paid $500 million in compensation, which is being distributed to local victims. More than 200,000 people were directly affected, including 41,000 fishermen and women.
The environment ministry said the affected region could take a decade to completely recover from the incident, while experts predict the disaster may set Vietnam’s economy back for years.
However, environment officials last week agreed for the plant to test run a new furnace on a six-month trial period after concluding that it had fixed all problems related to environmental protection.