Vietnam to announce cause of mass fish deaths on June 29

By Ba Do   June 27, 2016 | 06:51 pm GMT+7
Vietnam to announce cause of mass fish deaths on June 29
Lieutenant General Tran Van Ve, deputy general director of Public Security Bureau (Ministry of Public Security). Photo by VnExpress/Ba Do

An official from Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said the cause of recent mass fish deaths along the country's central coast will likely be announced on June 29 as the agency continues to investigate and collect evidence related to the environmental disaster.

The announcement was made during a press conference held in Hanoi on June 27, although there were no guarantees the results of the investigation will materialize on that date.

"The investigation is ongoing so the ministry cannot provide any information yet. The government has asked for the investigation to be concluded in June, and the results will probably be publicized on June 29 at a press conference," said Lieutenant General Tran Van Ve, deputy general director of the Public Security Bureau under the MPS.

Questions were raised on whether there is a culprit for the phenomenon that killed more than a hundred tons of fish in four coastal central provinces. The MPS responded by saying it is coordinating with other related agencies to clarify the cause and will strictly punish any violations of law.

In early April, large quantities of fish washed up dead near the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh Province. The phenomenon spread south along the coast of the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Quang Binh and Thua-Thien Hue, resulting in more than a 100 tons of dead fish.

Coastal fishermen and Vietnam’s Fisheries Agency blamed a discharge of chemicals in the vicinity of Vung Ang on April 6. They told reporters that a toxic tide had then worked its way south along the coast of four provinces, killing farmed fish as well as free swimming species. A Taiwanese steel corporation, Formosa Ha Tinh Steel, has become the prime suspect.

On April 24, Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) reported that teams were being deployed to investigate the disaster. Scientists at the Fisheries Agency, a unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), promised a definitive diagnosis within 10 days.

At a press conference held by MONRE on April 27, Minister Vu Tuan Nhan issued a statement saying no connection between Formosa steel plant and the mass fish deaths had been identified. He said there are two possible reasons for the disaster. 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”.

MONRE said on May 26 the ministry is not covering up the truth about the mysterious mass fish deaths in the central region.

On June 2, Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan said scientists have identified the cause of the mass fish deaths and promised to announce the formal conclusion of the investigation later in June, after “thorough scientific deliberation” by both Vietnamese and foreign experts.

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