Thousands of tons dead fish force farmers into debt

Thousands of tons of fish raised by farmers in cages in southern province of Dong Nai have died, causing losses of tens of billion VND for dozens of fish breeders. However, the cause of death of the fish has yet to be determined.

Thousands of tons of fish raised by farmers in cages in southern province of Dong Nai have died, causing losses of tens of billion VND for dozens of fish breeders. However, the cause of death of the fish has yet to be determined.

A first wave of fish deaths occurred in the beginning of June.

Dead fish have forced many fish breeders to liquidate because their property was used to secure loans.

Masses of dead fish float densely on the water’s surface in a cage on the Dong Nai River. (Photo:SGGP)

Masses of dead fish float densely on the water’s surface in a cage on the Dong Nai River. (Photo:SGGP)

At present, farmers of the Thong Nhat Ward are worrying about their livelihoods because total losses are too great to overcome, said a breeder.

According to a report from the local authorities, the amount of dead fish totals 56,000 tons so far, causing the farmers to lose tens of billion VND.

A somber, anxious atmosphere covers fishing households in the ward, Sai Gon Giai Phong Newspaper’s reporters recorded. Moreover, farmers’ anxiousness increases whenever their harvest comes near.

Vu Thanh Tuyen, a fish breeder said in nearly two weeks her family lost nearly two tons of fish while harvest was approaching. She said her family expended a great deal of money and effort in order to generate those fish.

Tuyen said her family has just been watching the fish die off and their dead bodies seem pile up in the cages.

The same situation occurred with other families in the ward, Tuyen said, adding, they do not know what to do.

The situation is forcing farmers to accumulate debt upon debt, said Tuyen.

Breeder Nguyen Duc Thang said his family has lost four tons of fish with total losses estimated around VND200 million (US$10,500). If fish continue to die in droves, his family would not be able to pay their debts, he said.

Thang’s wife remembers massive fish deaths of 2007, when her family had to sell land to pay debts. The same situation occurred again this year she has no more land to sell, she added.

Among fish breeders in the ward, Tran Duc Can’s family has suffered the greatest losses, estimated at VND1 billion ($53,000).

With surly face, Can said his family invested VND3 billion ($155,000) into dieu hong fish, breeding them over a total area of 5,000 square meters. However, from June 23-24, six tons of fish died, creating losses estimated at VND300 million ($15,700), not including the amount of fish that died from June 6-8.

With the situation of masses of fish dying, workers do not have anything to do, but many families still pay salaries. This has caused Can’s family and other families to face numerous difficulties, especially unpaid debts, he said.

According to Dong Nai Province’s Environmental Protection Department, the large amount of dead fish could adversely affect the quality of the local ecology and the lives of residents in adjacent areas.

According to people who feed and manage the fish farm, the main cause of fish die-off may be pollutants discharged from factories affecting the quality of water in the Dong Nai River.

Residents hope that the local authorities will resolve the issue as soon as possible in order to help famers continue breeding fish.

The Dong Nai river system plays an extremely important role in the development of 12 provinces and cities, including HCM City, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Long An, Tay Ninh, Lam Dong, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan.
 
Approximately 60 industrial and export processing zones are located along the Dong Nai river basin, but just one-third of them have waste water treatment systems. The remaining discharge waste water goes into the river, causing serious pollution.

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