The coastal area has been excavated by local residents who have been trying to create large ponds for shrimp hatcheries. As a result, the coastal protection forests have disappeared, the underground water has become exhausted. The waste from pond shrimp has been left everywhere on the beaches, giving out a terrible smell. Tens of thousands of local residents here are facing an environmental disaster.
The seaside has been “cut into small bits”
According to Pham Van Tra, head of a sub-department for Agriculture and Rural Development of Phu My district, the coastal area in the communes of My An and My Thang covers an area of 500 hectares, including the 200 hectares the Binh Dinh provincial authorities have reserved for hatching shrimp on sand.
Some years ago, the provincial authorities leased the land to some companies which use the premises to hatch shrimp on sand. AE leases more than 50 hectares. The US-based Asia Hawaii Ventures also leases nearly 50 hectares.
However, the companies have been using small parts of the leased area for their shrimp hatchery projects. AE, for example, is using 10 hectares, while Asia Hawaii 18 hectares. As for the remaining land area, the companies have spontaneously re-leased to local residents who create lakes to hatch shrimp on sand.
Currently, in My An and My Thang Communes alone, 70 households have illegally built up lakes for shrimp hatcheries, which cover an area of 30 hectares in total.
According to the Binh Dinh Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, the province now has 140 hectares of water surface area, mostly located in Phu My district with 118 hectares, Phu Cat with 15 hectares, and in the Hoai Nhon district.
Shrimp ponds exhaust fresh water
The shrimp hatchery areas in My An and My Thang communes have been well known as an area with limited fresh water sources in comparison with other localities. For the last many years, local residents have always been facing a fresh water shortage.
Since shrimp ponds have appeared, a lot of water wells have also appeared. According to local authorities, every hectare of shrimp ponds needs 50,000 cubic meters of fresh water.
Meanwhile, the survey conducted by the Binh Dinh Sub-department for Environment Protection showed that the underground water layer in the shrimp hatchery areas in the province has become salty. The wells with the depth of 4-5 meters now cannot be used, and local residents have to seek water at the depth of over 20 meters.
The sub-department has also warned that the massive exploitation of underground water to serve on-sand shrimp hatchery areas will cause the layer landslide and exhaust the fresh water sources, badly affecting the production and lives of local residents.
Bui Thai Son, Deputy Head of the Phu My district’s Division for Natural Resources and the Environment, said that no on-sand shrimp hatchery pond in Phu My has a good waste treatment system. The shrimp ponds all discharge waste to low-lying land, or directly to the sea. In My An, shrimp ponds’ owners discharge waste to the empty sand-banks next to the ponds.
“We know that the waste from shrimp ponds will harm the environment, but it will be very costly to build waste treatment systems. Therefore, no one has such a system here,” said Vo Van Han, a farmer in Xuan Thanh hamlet said.
In fact, according to Son, in the past, there were two reservoirs for treating waste in the shrimp hatchery area of My A. However, after a period of operation, both of the reservoirs broke. As a result, the waste from hundreds of ponds flows to canals and then go directly to the sea.