Pollution threatens to kill Vietnam's marine life

By Bui Hong Nhung   September 4, 2016 | 11:30 pm PT
Around 10 percent of Vietnamese rivers are now classed as seriously polluted.

With 28 out of Vietnam's 63 provinces located on the coast, there is huge potential to develop the country's marine economy. However, this is being undermined by the ever-rising threat of pollution.

Du Van Toan from Vietnam’s Institute of Marine Research told Vietnam News Agency that most pollutants are discharged into rivers, which then flow into the sea.

A report by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment showed that Vietnamese rivers pour a million tons of organic pollutants and toxic chemicals from residential areas and industrial zones into the sea each year.

Around 10 percent of Vietnamese rivers are now classed as seriously polluted.


A sewage outlet on a coastal road in Da Nang. Photo by Vietnam News Agency

The lack of waste treatment systems coupled with the rapid development of tourism have also exacerbated the already serious problem.

The ministry estimates that 90 percent of the country's coral reefs are threatened by pollution and over 70 species of marine life have been listed in Vietnam's Red Book of Endangered Species.

Polluted waters has resulted in a "red tide", a phenomenon that causes algae to bloom quickly and starve the water of oxygen, along the coast of southern provinces like Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and Khanh Hoa, causing great losses to the aquaculture industry.

Vietnamese experts agree that allowing coastal localities to control their marine resources is the best way of protecting the marine environment. This promotes the involvement of the local community, rather than leaving it down to authorities.

Nguyen Van Cu, former director of Vietnam’s Directorate of Sea and Islands, said that the country should also establish more protected areas to preserve biodiversity as part of a plan to build an additional 41 nature reserves by 2020.

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