With the reasons behind the mass fish deaths hitting Ha Tinh and many other provinces in north-central Vietnam still a mystery, local clam farmers have fallen victim as well.
More than 100 metric tons of clams in Ky Ha Commune, Ky An District, have died of unknown causes just before harvest time, leaving farmers forlorn as many had taken large loans to begin their operations.
What can be seen in clam fields across the commune now are piles of dead mollusks, with grieving farmers crying over their huge losses.
Mai Thi Nhan borrowed VND200 million (US$8,929) to invest in her 1.5 hectare clam field, and had expected to harvest some 18-20 metric tons of the mollusks by Saturday.
“But none of the clams is alive now,” she said in tears.
Tran Thi Lua, her neighbor, also lost her entire crop of 15 metric tons of clams, having expected to have harvested by this weekend. This also means her anticipated first repayment on a VND200 million bank loan has disappeared.
“We had held a lot of hope about the harvest,” she said. “Many traders had even paid a deposit to buy my clams, but now all hopes have been shattered.”
A farmer dumps her dead clams. Photo: Tuoi Tre
On Wednesday, the commune’s administration visited the clam fields to find ways to help farmers.
Commune chairman Le Van Luyen confirmed that nearly 100 metric tons of clams in the area had died. The Ky Ha administration has reported the incident to higher level authorities, hoping to attract support for the affected clam growers.
Luyen said it is not easy for home-grown clams to die, so the mass death is a really big issue.
Ha Tinh is one of several central provinces including Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue that have witnessed the mysterious mass deaths of fish since the beginning of this month.
The phenomenon appeared to have stopped for a while last week, but returned on Sunday, with chemicals suspected to be at fault.
The mass fish deaths have also kept local fishermen ashore, according to the commune chairman.
Some 200 fishing boats with 500 fishermen have stopped sailing over the last 20 days, Luyen said.
“Ky Ha is the largest fishing area in Ha Tinh, raking in some VND40 billion ($1.79 million) in annual seafood revenue, but all fishing has come to a halt and many families have quickly fallen into hardship,” he said.