It’s Earth Day, and we see another grim reminder of the consequences of environmental pollution this week, as authorities begin investigating a wave of recent fish deaths along the coast of central Vietnam.
Several tons of fish have been found along the beaches and include deep water and rare species. Current speculation points to pollution as the cause of the washed up fish.
Fishermen in the area are reporting that the sea floor is also covered in dead fish, up to three miles off shore, in addition to the ones that have washed up. Tran Dinh Du, deputy director of agriculture in Quang Binh province claims the fish appear to have been poisoned by “unidentified substances”. A costly and devastating event for local fisherman, they have been burying the dead fish by the ton and instructing citizens to not handle or consume any fish that may have washed up.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Environment is currently investigating the potential cause of this sudden and widespread concern. Signs are pointing toward environmental causes due to pollution in the area’s waters. If it is environmental pollution, the Ministry of Environment is working to find the source of the pollution address it immediately. Vietnam has a $6 Billion-plus seafood export market that relies on the work by the country’s fishermen.
The report coming from Vietnam is on the heels of weeks of reports of a similar nature coming out of the coasts of Chile in South America, the latest of which is the massive die-offs of sardines. As with Vietnam, the exact cause of the the fish die-offs is still unknown, and it is causing significant health and economic impact, especially in the Queule area.
“The situation is critical. I think that today, is the fifth day and the government should’ve declared a disaster area. The health part is tremendous, children should not have classes, headaches are immense,” a local fisher-woman reported.
Local authorities are working to remove the sardines from the water in order to dispose of them properly, and have banned the consumption of sardines from this area until they identify the causes and potential health risks of surrounding the fish die-offs.
The two incidents are just the most recent of a long list of mass wildlife die offs in recent years. Often, they can be traced back to natural changes in the local environment or the pollution cause can be identified. Other reports however, are not traced to a specific source, which leaves more questions than answers on how to prevent future mass die-offs of marine wildlife from occurring.
Until the situations in both countries are resolved, local authorities are doing the best they can to remove the fish and prioritize the health of the local population.
Photo Credit: Local fisherman shows dead fish picked up on shore in Vietname, STR/AFP/Getty Images