Authorities in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta provinces have indirectly created disputes over catching natural oysters on alluvial and muddy grounds along the coast recently.
Such areas on the coast have been the natural fishing places of locals for generations, but authorities in some localities have zoned the public coast into plots and awarded them to individuals.
Thus, disagreements have broke out between those ‘beneficiary individuals’ and residents who catch oysters and other sea creatures on the grounds.
It sounds odd, but many conflicts have erupted along a stretch of coast hundreds of kilometers in length, from the provinces of Long An and Tien Giang to Bac Lieu and Kien Giang.
Each of the conflicts has drawn the participation of thousands of locals.
The most recent case occurred at an alluvial ground named Cai Cung in Long Dien Dong Commune, Dong Hai District, Bac Lieu, on August 8.
The person involved in this case is Le Vinh Phat, who lives in Hoa Binh, a different district in Bac Lieu.
Phat was allowed to ‘borrow’ an area of 50 hectares on the alluvial and muddy ground on the coast, which has been the natural fishing site of thousands of locals for generations.
He hired over a hundred people to guard his “50-hectare farm,” but the guardians failed to protect the area from thousands of angry people.
An official from Long Dien Dong Commune in Bac Lieu’s Dong Hai District said that authorities of the commune are not allowed to lease out the public area but they did it in 2012 because “the area was deserted.”
Nguyen Xuan Thuy, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee of Dong Hai District, said his agency has never granted a license to any individual on the muddy coast.
The area Phat was allowed to farm by Long Dien Dong authorities has been a natural fishing ground of local residents for a long time, Thuy added.
“The muddy coast has given the means of support to thousands of locals and it is impossible to zone it for an individual,” Thuy underlined.
Thuy said authorities of Dong Hai District are mulling bringing those who fish on the coast into farming cooperatives to join hands in working and benefiting from it.