After several weeks of suspended activity, fishermen in the central provinces of Ha Tinh and Quang Binh have resumed operations in the wake of the unexplained mass fish deaths in the region.
According to the Quang Binh Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, about 12 fishing boats have returned to the mainland since Saturday, bringing with them some 112 metric tons of fish, all of which have been sold to local merchants and businesses.
About 10 to 15 similar ships are expected to return to the province in coming days with local processing facilities waiting to buy their catches.
The People’s Committee in Dong Hoi City in Quang Binh has also decided to establish locations specially designed for the trading of seafood in several major markets, in an effort to support local fishermen.
Several operators have signed contracts with businesses, agreeing to buy all of their fish purchased the moment they arrive at docks, Dinh Minh Chat, deputy director of the Quang Binh Department of Industry and Trade said, while adding that the department would also help those who have not made such deals to find buyers.
“As many fishermen are worried that they will be forced to sell their products at a low price, we have carried out our own quality control of the fish as well as made regular supervisions to ensure that they are sold at an appropriate cost,” Chat elaborated.
According to Nguyen Van To, owner of a fishing boat in Dong Hoi City, the origin and quality of fish caught will be inspected by competent authorities before a food safety certificate is issued in order for the products to be sold.
On Monday afternoon, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters arrived in Cam Nhuong Commune in Cam Xuyen District, Ha Tinh Province and witnessed hundreds of local fishing ships preparing for offshore operations.
“We have missed the sea for days. We were so happy to hear that local business and processing facilities had promised to buy all of our catches,” said Nguyen Trong Viet, a local fisherman.
According to Nguyen Thi Duong, a local resident, many have been afraid to begin operations again following the unexplained mass fish deaths.
However, they have recently decided to resume their jobs after being encouraged by the authorities, Duong continued.
Nguyen Cong Hoang, head of the Ha Tinh Aquaculture Division, said that the division has been coordinating with the provincial Department of Industry and Trade to purchase nearly 100 metric tons of seafood from local operators.
Authorized units have also been dispatched to local seaports around the clock to buy the products as soon as fishermen return, Hoang stated.
Tons of dead fish have washed ashore in the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue since April 6, with no official conclusionyet on what caused the environmental disaster.
The livelihood of local residents, especially fishermen, has been directly impacted by the phenomenon, which Vietnamese officials have referred to as unprecedented.