PM: “No cover ups allowed when investigating mass fish deaths”

By Duc Hung   May 1, 2016 | 07:42 pm GMT+7

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a meeting today: “whoever is behind [the mass fish deaths] has to be brought to light, there must be no cover ups.”

On May 1, Phuc, two deputy prime ministers Vu Duc Dam and Trinh Dinh Dung and representatives of relevant ministries met with provinces affected by mass fish deaths in Ha Tinh province.

Phuc called the mass fish deaths a serious environmental occurrence and urged government agencies to work together and “prevent similar environmental disaster from ever happening again.”

Solutions to the problem have to based on “the spirit not to leave [affected] citizen hungry,” he added.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (standing) at the meeting today in Ha Tinh. Photo by D.H

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (standing) at the meeting today in Ha Tinh. Photo by D.H

Representatives of affected provinces requested the government to soon answer on the cause of the deaths as well as provide a clear support policy for fishermen, leaving no room for speculation.

Hoang Dang Quang, Quang Binh provincial Party Chief, said: “We request the government to soon announce the safe fishing zone for fishermen. Currently, we don’t know how to answer people.”

Phuc echoed the request, adding that the government’s conclusion on the cause of mass fish deaths must be concise and science based with no cover ups for any violators.

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.

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”. Scientists, led by Ministry of Science and Technology, are still investigating the incident.

The hypotheses have been met with opposition from many experts.

Local fishermen have since faced problems selling their produce as consumers fear the fish might be poisoned. To support the fishermen, the government has decided yesterday to buy all fish caught offshore. Additionally, affected provinces have been ordered today to inspect seafood safety one to twice daily.