Hanoi (Vietnam), April 18: Fishermen from Vietnam are frustrated because of their environment disasters. According to them, sea life has been vanishing as the fishes don’t have a long lifeline and they can’t find big fishes. Many fishermen are leaving their prime duty, residing in search of other jobs.50-year-old Mai Xuan Hoa, one of the locals complained while picking small fish from a net as he tried to rebuild his livelihood a year after Vietnam's worst environmental disaster that the big fish are all dead. Hoa said, "Where we caught 10 fish in the past, now we will only catch one or two".
According to them, sea life has been reducing as a steel plant has being developed by Taiwan's Formosa Plastics in Ha Tinh province in the country's north-central coast since last year. More than 200 km of the coast had been sullied by the accidental release of chemicals including cyanide, phenols and iron hydroxide within weeks. The recovery is slow and anger continues.
According to locals, thousands of fishermen have simply given up and gone to look for work elsewhere. Tourists are cautious of beaches that have lost their pristine reputation and businesses are under pressure.
Vietnam’s priest and activist Dang Huu Nam said that first people were angry with Formosa for polluting Vietnam's environment. Now, they are angry with the unclear responses and solutions of some provincial authorities over fixing the disaster. This disaster directly affected more than 40,000 jobs in four provinces dependent on fishing and tourism.
According to the labor ministry of Vietnam across the country, a quarter of a million workers felt the impact. Formosa agreed to pay $US500 million in compensation after unseen anger in four decades of Communist Party rule and months of rallies.
The Hanoi government and the provinces have now declared the sea clean and the seafood safe but fishermen say fish stocks have yet to recover.
On a beach in Ha Tinh province, Hoa and two other fishermen's catch for the day was barely enough to fill a bucket. They said that compensation payments of 17.4 million dong ($US765) would not last them long.
Despite the reduced supply, Fish prices are now a quarter of what they were because of fears of continued contamination said, merchant. Boats are emptied by many fishermen’s.
Nguyen Truong Khoa, Deputy Director of the local environment department in the province, south of Ha Tinh said that it will take a long time to recover completely. Tourists are also still wary of this stretch of coast.
Once busy the Ky Hoa seafood restaurant on the central beach of Cua Viet is empty. Dust settles on chairs and tables. On this owner, Mai Ngoc Ky said, "It's like the place is dying".
The central government says half the compensation money has been paid out but many complain about the wait. Seafood trader Nguyen Viet Long said that if things continue like this we will soon be bankrupt.
According to the government of Vietnam, the steel plant has now addressed 51 out of 53 violations identified in an investigation into the accident, but it will only restart when it can do so safely. With the aim of starting commercial steel production by the end of the year, Formosa hopes to get approval as it is nearly lacking a year behind schedule.
Formosa has promised to invest another $US350 million at the mill, including in a more modern 'dry' coking system which does not use water as a coolant but is more expensive. Formosa's use of the 'wet' coking system which generates more waste was highlighted as one of the failures in the government report. The company said it was still using the dirtier process, but it had until 2019 to switch.
Formosa wants to make the steel mill the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia, exactly the sort of investment the government seeks so as to maintain annual growth rates of over 6% but the activist movement roused by the spill has made Vietnamese and the government more familiar to environmental risks.
In February, the government of Vietnam said it would not grant licenses to any projects with a high pollution risk. Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung asked the environment ministry to revise rules and to intensify inspection and supervision of projects at the investment and construction stage.