Serious pollution in the Vam Co Dong River is the main reason for heavy losses to fish farmers in Tay Ninh Province, local environmental authorities have confirmed.
The provincial Department of Natural Resources and the Environment said that oxygen levels in the river had reached an alarming low rate due to high pollution levels that are up to five times over the permitted rate.
“This has been the main cause of multiple fish deaths over the past two weeks,” said a report from the department.
Local farmers suspect waste water discharged from a nearby noodle factory is the reason, although there has been no confirmation from local authorities.
It was also unclear who would be responsible for compensating farmers, said a provincial official on condition of anonymity.
Nguyen Dinh Xuan, director of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, said that this was not an unusual occurrence which normally took place during the dry season.
“We have taken samples from nearby factories for testing. These firms already have waste water treatment systems. If people want compensation, they must prove the plants discharged polluted water directly into the river,” Xuan said.
In Phuoc Vinh Commune, Chau Thanh District, massive fish deaths have been reported, despite farmers’ efforts.
Luu Thi Hue, who owned three cages of tilapia and red tilapia fish, said she was really upset because the pollution had killed most of her fish since early this month.
She said despite all of her family’s effort to save them, she was now trying to sell the remaining fish for an unbelievably low price.
“My family will suffer huge losses this year. I should sell them all immediately or I will loose all of my investment,” said Hue.
Nguyen Van Dat’s story is even worse. Dat owned a total of 5,000 fish but about 98 per cent have died.
Dat thought he would make a profit of VND200 million (nearly US$10,000) this year.
Dat and his wife were among the poor farmers in the province who have poured all of their savings, but now face ruin.
Nguyen Van Loc, who has farmed fish for 20 years, said this was the heaviest damage his household had sustained.
Loc said all of his goby fish had died, and if wasn’t for the pollution, he could have sold them for VND250,000 (roughly $10) per kilo.
The Vam Co Dong River is one of the two most important rivers in the southern region, and plays a very important role in irrigation and waterway transport in Tay Ninh Province.