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Government to buy all fish caught offshore amid mass fish death mystery

By Lam Le   April 30, 2016 | 12:52 am PT
The government attempts to save the livelihood of local fishermen by paying for all of their catch offshore as consumers shy away in mass fish death mystery.

Deputy prime minister Trinh Dinh Dung has asked Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Ministry of Industry and Trade to set up a hotline to buy all offshore catch from local fishermen in a meeting in Ha Tinh province this morning, according to a statement on the government's website.

We are not to leave a single fisherman’s boat with unsold seafood”, Dung said. An order from the government office was sent immediately to affected provinces following his decision. 

With an aim to stabilize lives of people living by the coast, Dung said: “I request relevant authorities to strengthen their forces in [affected] provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.”

The meeting was attended by ministries of industry and trade, agriculture and rural development, science and technology, natural resources and environment, public security, Government Office, Commander of 4th Military Region and representatives of Quang Binh and Ha Tinh provinces.

The mass fish deaths in central Vietnam were first reported in fish cages at sea near Ha Tinh’s Vung Ang ward at the beginning of April. As of April 25, 70 tons of mostly demersal fish have died in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue, according to official reports from the provinces. In Thua Thien-Hue alone, 35 tons of fish have died on commercial farms.

Local fishermen have since faced problems selling their produce as consumers fear the fish might be poisoned.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on April 27, there are two hypotheses to explain the mass fish deaths. One is toxic chemicals released by human activities. Another is an abnormal natural phenomenon that causes algae to rapidly bloom, commonly known as a “red tide”.

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