Fishermen in Central region facing depleted fishing grounds

For many generations, fishermen in the Central region have depended on the sea to make a living. Yet their destructive exploitation of this natural resource has gradually depleted it, making their livelihood more struggling.

Senior fisherman Le Ba Hoang from Quynh Lap Commune of Hoang Mai Town in Nghe An Province is worrying about the depletion of seafood in the local seawaters (Photo: SGGP)

Senior fisherman Le Ba Hoang from Quynh Lap Commune of Hoang Mai Town in Nghe An Province recalled that he used to go fishing 1 hour away from Lach Con Estuary to catch a rich variety of seafood. Now he has to travel to Hoang Sa Fishing Ground or the Bach Long Vi Sea, the seawaters in neighboring provinces of Quang Tri, Quang Nam, or Quang Ngai in order to successfully catch some fish. He regretted that his fellow fishermen had not carefully nurtured young fish but caught them full-scale, leading to quick depletion.

A similar situation can be found in the seawaters of Da Nang City, where fishermen have repeatedly exterminated seafood and increased the number of fishing boats, leading to a remarkable drop of seafood since they do not have enough time for reproduction.

In the communes of Quang Xuan, Quang Phu, Canh Duong of Quang Trach District in Quang Binh Province, fishermen are also discouraged by a significant decrease in the quantity of fish this year, not merely because of climate change but also due to the bad practice of large-scale extermination.

Chairman Duong Minh Phuong of the People’s Committee of Quang Xuan Commune informed that the commune now has 200 fishing boats of all sizes, but since this Tet holiday, only five have had bumper catches of fish and earned VND500 million (US$20,000) in total, while others just have enough money to pay for their trip expenses.

Binh Thuan Province has always been considered one of the three largest fishing grounds in Vietnam, but is still experiencing a similarly worrying state of aqua-product depletion.

“10 years ago, there was such a surplus of seafood that fishermen only needed to stay onshore and throw their net to get a full haul of fish and shrimps. Since the appearance of fishing boats for full-scale catching, fish of all ages have been grabbed, leading to quick depletion. Now only large boats for offshore fishing can earn some profit, whereas it is nearly impossible for smaller boats to successfully catch fish”, said fisherman Le Van Banh from Phan Thiet City of Binh Thuan Province.

Many tuna fishing boats in the Tam Quan Bac waters (Binh Dinh Province) are facing trouble due to profit loss (Photo: SGGP)

Until 2018, Hoai Nhon Town of Binh Dinh Province was classified as the capital of tuna fishing in Vietnam, with 1,000 specialized boats. Thanks to a surplus of fish and export convenience, the life of fishermen then was quite prosperous. Yet that golden time lasted no longer than 10 years.

The main reason, according to senior fisherman Phan Van Coi in Tam Quan Bac Ward of the town, is that both the tuna quantity and prices have gradually dropped but the number of fishermen has increased uncontrollably. Thousands of boats have been catching tuna for 10 years non-stop to kill nearly all tuna in this sea, regardless of their age.

Senior fisherman Bui Thanh Ninh also in Tam Quan Bac Ward agreed with that and added one more reason. The fishing ground for tuna has been greatly narrowed lately.

Over-exploitation of seafood in Binh Dinh Province, along with climate change, has worsened the situation when several fishes are facing the same destiny of depletion. Therefore, according to Director Tran Van Phuc of the Binh Dinh Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, it is high time the local authorities investigate and re-evaluate the aquatic resources in the province, followed by suitable issuance of fishing permits.

The Fisheries Department of Binh Thuan Province commented that besides uncontrolled exploitation of seafood, catching fish during their spawning season also contributes to the depletion of this valuable resource.

Acting Chairman Hoang Hong Hiep of the Institute of Social Sciences of the Central Region (ISSCR) first reported that a survey conducted by his organization confirmed a seafood quantity drop compared to five years ago. This stems from various factors, including fishing beyond the reserve or the recovery ability of nature. This will inevitably lead to unsustainable marine economic growth.

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