A long-awaited media meeting hoped to reveal the cause of the fish deaths in several central Vietnamese provinces on Wednesday eventually angered the public as it lasted only ten minutes and no satisfying answers were released.
Reporters had to wait for hours to attend the meeting, chaired by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, only to listen to a deputy minister reading a press release, while having no opportunity to enquire any questions.
The conference, expected to reveal the cause of fish deaths in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue, started at 7:50 pm after a hours-long delay, and ended at 8:00 pm.
During the event, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan listed two possible reasons behind the mass fish deaths.
The first potential cause is the toxic chemicals released by human activities carried out along the coast and on the sea, according to the deputy minister.
The second cause arises from an unusual phenomenon called ‘algal bloom’ or ‘red tide,’ which is the combined result of nature and human impacts, Nhan said.
The deputy minister added that based on current evidence there has been no connection between the mass fish deaths and operations of a Ha Tinh subsidiary of Taiwan’s Formosa, or of other factories along the coast.
All environmental statistics at these facilities are within the “allowed standards,” according to the official.
“Whether toxic chemicals are to blame is an extremely complicated problem that requires a long time for an explanation to be figured out,” Deputy Minister Nhan asserted.
Local reporters wait for the press meeting to start on the evening of April 27, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Tran The Muu, deputy head of the Research Institute for Aquaculture No.1, backed Nhan’s viewpoint by mentioning a similar case in Japan, in which it took local scientists 12 years to identify the real cause.
“We need time to accurately address the issue,” Muu remarked.
According to Nhan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will be responsible for providing the results of examination on collected samples of seawater and issuing cautions on aquaculture activities as well as seafood consumption.
The Ministry of Science and Technology will be in charge of the mobilization of research institutes and scientists for the analysis of the tests as well as seeking for consultation of foreign experts if necessary.
In an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Nguyen Van Nguyen, deputy chief of the Research Institute of Marine Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that his employees were re-collecting the sea water samples in the affected areas.
Previous collections of samples were not conducted in accordance with required procedures or were done too long after the fish deaths were discovered, thus result accuracy was considerably reduced, Nguyen elaborated.
More than ten agencies under the managements of deferent ministries were appointed with the collection of samples at an untimely manner, resulting in very little amount of test specimen as sea water content had changed overtime while the fish started to decompose, the official added.