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Catfish ponds put region at risk
09 | 10 | 2007
VietNamNet Bridge – Experts have warned that a recent increase in the number of Tra and Basa catfish farms across southern Vietnam could have serious implications for the region’s water supplies if environmental regulations continue to be violated.
According to local authorities in Can Tho and An Giang, farmers all along the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces are replacing paddy fields with catfish ponds at a rapidly increasing rate but few seem to be doing so according to official environmental requirements.

In An Giang Province alone, there are over 200ha of new fish farms, according to an initial report. But Huynh The Nang, deputy chairman of An Giang People's Committee, said he was in no doubt that the actual number could be much higher.

"Almost 75% of the new farms have not included or developed following fish farming promotion plans," Nang said.

"Not only do many of the new farms not meet environmental requirements but most of them are using the land for a different purpose to the one they applied permission for in the first place", he added.

Can Tho City is seeing a similiar situation and in response, Vo Thanh Tong, Chairman of the City People's Committee, said checks on existing farms would be assessed in accordance with an approved plan to expand fishfarms in the area. Any discrepancies would be dealt with strictly.

On regional scale Minister of Fisheries, Ta Quang Ngoc assured that his ministry did have a master plan in place which is set to see the country through to 2010.

However, setbacks lay in the fact that they could not ascertain how much of the region's fresh water supplies had already been sucked into the catfish industry. And this was a problem that involved many other industry sectors, the minister said.

"It requires comprehensive co-ordination with other sectors in areas such as irrigation and industrial development."

Output of catfish from the Delta provinces has already overtaken the Ministry of Fisheries' planned total of 1mil tonnes by 2010. In 2006 alone, the region produced 800,000 tonnes and if the acceleration continues, the ministry's target might be reached by the end of this year, three years earlier than previously expected, Ngoc said.

According to the minister, the situation was resulting in two major issues: effects on consumption and the limitations of the region's fresh water supplies.

His concerns were in concurrence with those voiced by environment experts who claimed that the recent boom could result in ecological imbalance leading to an increase in disease caused by waste water from fish farms polluting surrounding areas.

The results of this potential calamity would affect everyone in the area who had contact with the water, experts warned

(Source: Viet Nam News)
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