Quantcast
Animals

Millions of Dead Fish Washing Up on Vietnam's Shores

Vietnam has a fish problem and the government isn’t talking about it. Since April, millions of dead fish have been washing up on Vietnam’s shores.

Since April, millions of dead fish have been washing up on Vietnam’s shores. Photo credit: Jennifer Carole

Steel or Fish?

The lifeless fish and clams—along with the odd whale—go on for miles. Researchers hired by Vietnam’s government have concluded that “toxic elements” are behind the “unprecedented” deaths, but that’s where the answers seem to stop, reports Scott Duke Harris for the Los Angeles Times.

While the government is reluctant to a point any fingers—there’s a $10-billion investment on the line—locals, particularly fishermen, blame the environmental catastrophe on Formosa, a steel plant from Taiwan that allegedly pumped untreated steel wastewater into the ecosystem. If that’s true, the environmental consequences could be devastating.

According to Satyendra Kumar Sarna, a metallurgist and veteran of the steel industry since 1965, of Ispat Guru, there are several possible environmental effects of untreated wastewater: toxicity, which affects marine life; reduced levels of dissolved oxygen, which also affects marine life and the temperature of the water; silting; and oil slicks.

Unsurprisingly, the folks at Formosa aren’t being transparent about the role they did or didn’t play in this fishy mess. On one hand, the corporation is screaming that there’s (conveniently) no proof that it’s to blame. On the other hand, in a really bad PR move, a PR rep “also suggested that Vietnam may have to accept environmental trade-offs for industrial growth—perhaps a choice between steel or fish,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

Feel free to join me in a facepalm right about now.

While it sounds horrible, Asia is preoccupied with progress at any price. As Care2′s Steve Williams recently reminded us there’s a “coal-fired standoff with Asia” at the moment, despite the recent Paris climate deal where, “Experts warn that the expansion of coal-fired plants in India, China, Indonesia and Vietnam cannot be allowed to move forward if we want any chance to achieve our pollution reduction goals.”

Even with so much at stake for our planet, Vietnam is adamant about significantly expanding its coal-fired plants. President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim made this shocking statement to The Guardian about Vietnam’s plans: “If Vietnam goes forward with 40GW of coal, if the entire region implements the coal-based plans right now, I think we are finished. That would spell disaster for us and our planet.”

#IChooseFish

Fortunately, the people of Vietnam don’t agree with their government’s blatant disregard for the environment. In response to Formosa’s disconnected ultimatum between steel and fish, many locals choose fish, as the hashtag #ichoosefish illustrates. These locals understand: “No blue, no green.”

Many fish supporters took it a step further. This “unprecedented” fish die-off has sparked another unprecedented event in Vietnam: protests. While it may not seem revolutionary to us in the west, keep in mind that Vietnam is a communist state, so standing up to the government is a big no-no. But the price is just too high in this case. You can’t really eat steel now can you?

And this tweet illustrates how the government responds to protesters.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Video of Drunken Rampage + $15k Reward = 3 Men Identified as the Culprits for Killing the World’s Rarest Fish

USDA: Beekeepers Lost 44% of Honey Bee Colonies Last Year

5 Incredible Species That Glow in the Dark

Huge Win for the Oregon Spotted Frog

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular

12 Great Summertime Reads

Summer is a time for escape reading. But that designation need not be limited to fiction; books written for the general reader on topics outside one's area of expertise can also provide passage to exciting new places. This month's bookshelf includes six non-fiction titles, five novels and one collection of short stories. The last three titles are now in paperback, suitable for a vacation or some beach time. Good reading to you!

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Cosmos Offers Clues to the Fate of Humans on Earth

By Marlene Cimons

Astrophysicist Adam Frank sees climate change through a cosmic lens. He believes our present civilization isn't the first to burn up its resources—and won't be the last. Moreover, he thinks it's possible the same burnout fate already might have befallen alien worlds. That's why he says the current conversation about climate change is all wrong. "We shouldn't be talking about saving the planet, because the Earth will go on without us," he said. "We should be talking about saving ourselves."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Chicago skyline on April 20, 2017. Chris Favero / CC BY-SA 2.0

Big Cities, Bright Lights: Ranking the Worst Light Pollution on Earth

By Dipika Kadaba

The amount of artificial lighting is steadily increasing every year around the planet. It's a cause for celebration in remote villages in Africa and the Indian sub-continent that recently gained access to electricity for the first time, but it is also harming the health and well-being of residents of megacities elsewhere that continue to get bigger and brighter every year.

Health impacts of this artificial illumination after daylight hours range from depression to cancer, including a range of sleep disorders.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
velkr0 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Texas Supreme Court Rules Cities Cannot Ban Plastic Bags

The Texas Supreme Court struck down the city of Laredo's plastic bag ban—a decision that will likely overturn similar bans in about a dozen other cities, including Austin, Fort Stockton and Port Aransas.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
Ryan Zinke visits Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota on May 25. Sherman Hogue / U.S. Dept. of the Interior

Report: Trump Admin. Suppressing Media Access of Government Scientists

A new Trump administration protocol requires U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists to run interview requests with the Department of the Interior, its parent agency, before speaking to journalists, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The move is a departure from past media practices that allowed government scientists to quickly respond to journalists' inquiries, according to unnamed USGS employees interviewed by the Times.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Icebergs calving from an ice shelf in West Antarctica. NASA / GSFC / Jefferson Beck / CC BY-SA 2.0

Good News From Antarctica: Rising Bedrock Could Save Vulnerable Ice Sheet

After last week's disturbing news that ice melt in Antarctica has tripled in the last five years, another study published Thursday offers some surprising good news for the South Pole and its vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).

The study, published in Science by an international research team, found that the bedrock below the WAIS is rising, a process known as "uplift," at record rates as melting ice removes weight, potentially stabilizing the ice sheet that scientists feared would be lost to climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
GMO
Soybeans with cupped leaves, a symptom of dicamba injury. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Dicamba Damage Roars Back for Third Season in a Row

University weed scientists have reported roughly 383,000 acres of soybean injured by a weedkiller called dicamba so far in 2018, according to University of Missouri plant sciences professor, Kevin Bradley.

Dicamba destroys mostly everything in its path except the crops that are genetically engineered (GE) to resist it. The drift-prone chemical can be picked up by the wind and land on neighboring non-target fields. Plants exposed to the chemical are left wrinkled, cupped or stunted in growth.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Memphis Meats

FDA Takes First Steps to Regulating Lab-Grown Meat

By Dan Nosowitz

Lab-grown meat—also known as cultured meat or in vitro meat—has long been enticing for its potential environmental, social and economic benefits.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!