Pollution upends fishers' livelihood in Vietnam

Hue City, Vietnam — Michael Vo Van Hong, a thin and haggard fisherman, has had nothing to do for a living for the past three months.

Every day, he sits for hours in his shabby house, watching the sea where he and others used to catch various fish for a living.

"I miss fishing a lot and am longing to catch fish again, but all the fish are no longer in our waters," Hong said with a low voice. He is from the Lang Co parish in Phu Loc district, Thua Thien Hue province, central Vietnam.

On April 6, dead fish began washing ashore along 200 kilometers of the coastal provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue.

Vu Van Tam, Vietnam's vice minister of agriculture and rural development, said at a national meeting June 29 that fishermen in the four provinces lost 76,000 tons of seafood due to the marine pollution. Thua Thien Hue province suffered losses of 14,660 tons of seafood.

On June 30, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Tran Hong Ha said at a press conference in Hanoi that toxic waste, including phenol and cyanide, from a Taiwanese-built steel plant, a unit of Formosa Plastics, poisoned the waters. A drainage pipe connected to the facility based in Ha Tinh province allegedly discharged 10,240 cubic meters of toxic waste into the sea each day, he estimated.

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A version of this story appeared in the July 29-Aug 11, 2016 print issue under the headline: Pollution upends fishers' livelihood in Vietnam .

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