Vietnam maintains deepwater fishing ban near provinces hit by Formosa crisis

The fishing ban will remain in effect until further examination results are available

A woman walks between gondolas on the beach of Ha Tinh Province in central Vietnam

It is not yet possible to resume fishing for deepwater seafood in four central Vietnamese provinces affected by the Formosa environmental crisis last year, Deputy PM Truong Hoa Binh said on Wednesday.

The fishing ban will remain in effect until the Ministry of Health concludes that deepwater seafood in the area are safe for consumption and that aquatic resources in the waters have been replenished.

Last year, a massive number of dead fish washed ashore in the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue.

An investigation found that wastewater discharged into the ocean by the Vietnamese steel subsidiary of Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group was responsible for the environmental disaster. The Taiwanese firm agreed to pay US$500 million in damages.

Last September, an evaluation carried out by the Ministry of Health revealed that deepwater seafood sourced from along the provinces’ coastline was still unfit for consumption.

Species highlighted as unsafe by the ministry included aquatic animals infected with phenol, a harmful chemical which affected creatures living near the bottom of the sea such as shrimp, crabs, squids, and rays.

The ministry guaranteed, however, that fish caught at least 20 nautical miles offshore were not infected with the chemical and are safe to eat.

Deputy PM Binh, who heads a committee that oversees activities to remedy the consequences of the crisis, requested on Wednesday that authorities in the four affected provinces continue to discourage local fishermen from fishing within 20 nautical miles from the shore.

The ban is to remain in place until further examinations are conducted by the Ministry of Health.

The deputy premier also required that provinces pay restitution to affected fishermen no later than June 30, and ask for further funds from the Ministry of Finance if necessary.

The government plans to carry out one final revision to the list of those eligible for compensation to make any necessary additions.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was to monitor Formosa’s progress in alleviating harm caused by the damage and obeying the law.

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