Vietnamese fishermen head overseas for work after pollution kills off catch

By Pham Huong   June 30, 2016 | 02:10 am PT
The Vietnamese government will help fishermen from central coastal provinces to find new jobs in the wake of mass fish deaths that have hammered local fisheries, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

Hundreds of thousands of people who have been affected directly and indirectly by the mass fish deaths along 200 kilometers of coastline in four central provinces will receive vocational training to find new jobs or go abroad to work under a labor export program.

Vietnam’s central coastal provinces have been hit hard by an environmental disaster that killed fish in both aquatic farms and coastal waters.

The mass fish deaths started in April in the central province of Ha Tinh, about 400 kilometers south of Hanoi. Fish raised in farms near Ha Tinh Province’s Vung Ang Port were found dead on April 6, with more dead fish subsequently washing up on local beaches.

The problem quickly spread to the nearby provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien – Hue along a 200km stretch of coast.

The mass fish deaths have reportedly devastated local fisheries, disrupted people’s lives and hit local tourism in the area.


The Vietnamese government plans to help people in central provinces whose lives have been badly affected by the recent mass fish deaths to find new jobs or work overseas under a labor export program. Photo by Vnexpress/Duc Hung.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, the affected provinces have all recorded declining coastal fisheries in the first six months of this year. Specifically, fishermen in Ha Tinh Province have caught six percent less fish, Quang Binh 8.7 percent, Quang Tri 14.3 percent and Thua Thien-Hue nearly 30 percent.

More than 7,000 people in Quang Tri province lost their jobs in the months after the fish deaths, provincial Party Secretary Nguyen Van Hung said.

The ministry said the government should help fishermen to build new boats so that they can go fishing offshore.

“Fishermen who don’t want to go fishing offshore can stay on the mainland and find suitable jobs and improve their incomes,” said Deputy Agriculture Minister Vu Van Tam.

“We think that helping each affected family to send one person to work overseas under a labor export program would be an chance for them to have a better life,” he added.

The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said it will help fishermen to find work in Japan and South Korea, and offer training before they go abroad.

However, stricter requirements will be applied to workers from Quang Tri Province which has a high number of illegal workers in South Korea.

Local authorities also expect the government to help people who made a living from selling fish or making fish sauce before the disaster get sewing training so that they can find jobs at nearby industrial parks.

The government has supported local people in the affected areas by promising each resident, including fishermen, fishing boat owners and aquatic farmers, 15 kilograms of rice per month for six consecutive months.

The Agriculture Ministry will present a detailed proposal to the government next week.

The Vietnamese government is expected to announce the cause of the fish deaths today after two months of investigation.

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