Reflections on Ocean Pollution in Vietnam

The following  essays are some of the reflections written by my students from Village Academy High School after they read the articles about Fish Kill in English  that I posted in my previous blog “How..”

1/ Kimberly Tran

My grandmother. She’s the first person I thought of when I heard about the ocean pollution that is currently happening in Vietnam. I thought about her perilous journey she faced to the U.S, running away from her war tormented country along with her 6 children and her soldier husband. It’s been decades since the Vietnam War and with time, her country has healed from the heartbreak and destruction. She thought the tragic times were over and yet 60 years later, she sees her beloved country being destroyed again.

This time, Vietnam is being destroyed by carelessness and selfishness from a Taiwanese, steel and plastics company – Formosa. From the beginning of April of this year, there has been multiple sightings of massive fish deaths along the coastal provinces of Vietnam. Due to the untreated wastewater coming from the pipelines of this company, it is killing the marine life in the Vietnamese waters. It is has not only led to fish genocide but it has degraded the life for the people in Vietnam. The people my grandma once shared a home with. The people of a country that has already struggled through so much. My people – the Vietnamese people. Because of this pollution, fishermen are losing their jobs and unable to make a stable income. Villagers are unable to feed their families. People are unable to live peacefully. It’s hurting the country as a whole.

Although I am a second generation Vietnamese American girl currently half way around the world from this tragedy, when I first heard about this issue, I was outraged. This issue has hit close to home. It is not only an environmental issue but it is also a human rights issue. For one, Vietnam is part of a whole, and that whole is our planet Earth. Secondly, the fact that this is stripping a group of people from a life of financial stability, food, and peace, it is a problem. It is a problem because this is getting in their way to live a normal happy life, something that all humans should have the right to have.

This issue is a tragic and unfortunate event but being the optimist I am, I see this as a chance. It is a chance for unity. It is a chance people to speak up and stand up for what is right. It is A chance for people all around the world to show us that there is still hope in humanity. So, I urge you all to look into what is happening in Vietnam and realize that this does affect us, maybe not directly but as a human race.

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2/ Yazmin Torres

Vietnam’s Fish Going To Waste

In the beginning of April, fish began to come to fishers but not the way the fishers can use the fish. The pollution of fish has greatly endangered people for the worst. “If you sail just three miles offshore, you can see dead fish all over the ocean floor,” the state-run Tuoi Tre quoted local fishermen as saying.This disaster has killed 100 tons of fish and is still destroying. This has happened in areas such as Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue.

Vietnam’s people, who have depended on fish and the resources from the ocean, would die and be contaminated. This affects adults, the elderly, children and infants.

And who is to blame?

Since the matter of fish dying was seen, the government has taken “great steps” to helping the people of Vietnam. Vietnam can be seen having very large demonstrations and posters with dead fish and words such as “We Choose Fish”. Many people suggest that there is a deeper meaning as to why these demonstrations are so large. In the last five years, this is one of the largest and most populated demonstrations seen in Vietnam.

It can be said that it has to do with the Taiwanese Formosa Ha Tinh steel factory. The development of the underground waste pipe taking all of the waste from the factory has produced a lot of waste. Can the waste from this newly developed factory be the principal cause of the fish dying?

In my opinion, this display of anger towards the newly developed factory and the government is necessary. This is a chance that the people must take to make a difference. If they don’t say anything, who will?

Resources:

http://thediplomat.com/2016/05/vietnams-new-environmental-politics-a-fish-out-of-water/

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/21/vietnam-investigates-mass-fish-deaths-pollution

3/ Irving Tellez

Its seems that the ones responsible for this incident are giving the people a choice. Either move forward with industrialization and accept the environmental consequences or stay behind. “Steel or Fish” as it is called is putting an unfair pressure on the communities in Vietnam. Formosa a steel manufacturer based in Vietnam is the main suspect of this incident. They deny all allegations saying that there is no proof, yet their PR agents go around saying in order to advance you must accept some consequences. The government isn’t being much help either stating everything is fine even the consumption of the fish.

However, the people of Vietnam don’t take kindly to the government’s standoffish views of the environment. The people have taken a stand against Formosa and the government many protesting in the streets of Vietnam and by rallying support on social media. #IChooseFish shows just what the people of Vietnam want.

This is event is now much more than the ecological issue now. It is about the people of VIetnam standing up to their government and its corruption. It has been a long time coming and the people of Vietnam are finally taking the steps to get their demands met. However, the road the citizens will travel on will be a long one. The government is know for disrupting peaceful protesting with force if the people of Vietnam can endure then then maybe they can see some change.

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4/ Sahira Rios
What is home to me? Home is a place where one lives. Home is a place where you should feel protected and safe. Home is not only a house, but a community, a country. Sadly for the people in Vietnam, home is not a place where one feels safe and protected. The word home for the people in Vietnam has taken another definition. The word home for the people in Vietnam means suffering, pain, and sacrifice. Vietnam has millions of dead fish washing up on Vietnam’s shore. Researchers have found that the reason for this is because toxic elements have been leaked into the oceans. This does not only affect the fish, but the people and most importantly to the government their economy. The people of Vietnam who eat the fish also become intoxicated and become ill. There have been many deaths due to contamination. Many people in Vietnam rely on fishing to provide a living for their families. After this situation, countries who would usually buy the fish do not want to buy it anymore for the fear of contamination. Fishermen will not have a way to provide for their families and the would lead to starvation. Starvation will lead to more deaths. This will decrease the economy in Vietnam greatly. Since Vietnam’s government will not try to solve the problem for their own people, they should try to solve it to save their economy. Who is there to blame for such devastation? No one. There is no one who is willing to take responsibility for what is happening in Vietnam. Formosa is a corporation that is known for pollution. The people seem to believe Formosa is responsible for this crisis, but when they asked Formosa, they denied everything. It is our time to take a stand and help the people in Vietnam. We must remember the people is Vietnam are human too. We should support one another and hopefully find a solution to their problem before it becomes our problem as well. As a country we should lend a helping hand to Vietnam’s families to gain back the real definition of home.

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5/ Cindy Montano

Ocean Pollution in Vietnam Reflection

After reading all of the articles Ms. Vo has provided for us, I got a bigger insight and understand of what is going on in the waters of Vietnam. The massive amount of dead fish have been reported since April 18 on the beach of Ha Tinh. The Vietnamese authority have now concluded that pollution by toxic chemicals caused the massive fish deaths. However, the exact kind of toxin has not been identified yet. Although it has not yet been proven, a company called Formosa are the ones being blamed the most by the Vietnam authorities. According to wikipedia, the company admitted that there are some sewage pipes that connect the plant to the ocean, and that might have been how the chemicals got into the water.

Although authorities say that this emergency is a “very huge and serious disaster” the government has been reacting very slowly to this problem. The government didn’t start reacting until three weeks after the first ton of dead-washed-up-fish was reported. Why did they take so long to deal with the fish deaths if it’s such a serious matter. This mass fish death catastrophe does not only have political and environmental impacts, but it has economic and social impacts as well. Many farmers depended on fish and other sea animals for their money. Farmers depended on the fish, because it was the only way they can get money to live. It not only affected farmers, but people in general. The people of Vietnam depended on the fish for their main meals almost everyday. Now with the mass fish deaths, they are scared to eat fish for fear that it might be poisoned. Because of this, fisheries aren’t making any money either because people aren’t buying fish.

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6/ Isaac Garcia

The Dead Sea

If you were walking along the beach and you saw hundreds of dead fish in the water, would you want to get in for a swim? Would you think that water is safe? The reality is that it isn’t. This isn’t just an exaggeration, this is actually happening in Vietnam today. The heavy increase of water pollution has caused the government to invest $10 Billion on the environmental damage caused by Formosa, a company known for pollution. People have been faced with the problem, Fish or Steel. The cost of steel also comes along with the pollution of water, and many environmentalists have chosen the protection of their water and their fish. Fish in Vietnam is heavily important, the exportation of fish in vietnam is a huge part of their GPD. Due to the recent pollution, fishermen have lost their jobs and the economy is headed for a slump.

The people of Vietnam have not kept quiet about this, though that’s what the government would not want. The people of Vietnam have been protesting and raising awareness. They have requested help from other countries since their own government took far too long to respond. The company they are protesting against have only tried to deflect the blame and say “Vietnam may have to accept environmental trade-offs for industrial growth”. This shows the clear apathy and disregard for human life by this company that is only looking for profit.

This has to stop. Corporations should not have the freedom to maximise profit if it means the destruction of the environment and the health and livelihood of thousands of people.Truly, the rich and selfish have no remorse.

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7/ Christian 

Vietnam Crisis

The Vietnam Crisis going on right now is by far one of the worsts crisis Vietnam has faced. A lot of families are now losing jobs since they relied on the supply of fish to get their families through the day. Now that millions of fish are washing up shores dead, it’s putting families out of business since they depended on the supply of fish for income. The people of Vietnam are now taking the issue on the streets by protests, and the the public outcry on the social media. The hashtag “toichonca”, meaning “I choose fish”, rises from the steel company Formosa in Vietnam where they are allegedly the cause of the millions of dead fish washing up on shore, and Formosa made the Vietnamese people choose between steel or fish. Hence the hashtag “toichonca” where the people choose fish since to a lot of families, fish is their only source of income and food.

I think that this issue needs to be dealt at once, since the government of Vietnam took a while to respond to the people’s demands to find the cause of the dead fish and to make their waters clean again. The researchers hired to investigate the cause of dead fish in Vietnam are certain that the cause are toxins in the waters that cause the deaths of the fish. What they don’t know is where the toxins came from. They speculate that the steel company Formosa released some wastewater into the oceans but the researchers are not certain.

My heart goes out to the people of Vietnam, especially the families that have to go through this tragedy, where the supply of fish was their only source of income, but now that fishes are now showing up dead, the supply is now critical, thus they have no money to provide for their families. I’ve had a similar experience, although it’s not as grave as what the people are going through in Vietnam where my dad got laid off and he was our only source of income. No money came to our family for six months, and we had to file for some paperwork so we could be able to keep our house. I’ve been through that scare, where money isn’t coming in and we might have to roam the streets. As I look back at this time of my life, I realize that this is going on around the world. It’s not only Vietnam that’s going through this same crisis where fishes are showing up on shorelines dead with no explanation. Other countries also went through the same thing such as Bolivia where millions of fishes washed up on their shorelines.

Abviously, this issue is not something that will happen in one place, this issue can really happen anywhere. Who knows. Maybe a nearby country will have the same problem, but let’s hope that we have a solution, and act as quickly as possible.

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8/ Calvin Adan

The mass fish disaster isn’t just affecting the people of Vietnam but of the world. The government has left their people and hasn’t done anything in which to help them regain back their clean water or fish. The disaster has at least killed 100 ton of fish, most of them washing up against the shores. Vietnam’s resources mostly come in from exporting fish to other countries. But since this incident it will deplete their sales, no one wants to buy any unhealthy fish. This will affect Vietnam’s economy as a whole, and the people as well. The people of Vietnam have stepped up in this response, but their local government would not listen to them and not claim responsibility.

The people behind this was by the Taiwanese-owned steel plant, in which they dropped their pipe waste into the sea. Some are believing this to be a man made disaster since their responsibility was theirs but are denying it. Now what the people of Vietnam are doing is speaking up for themselves in which they want un-poisoned fish and they want it to change. As a result their government is taking excessive force upon them in which to shut them down and keep their mouths shut. The government doesn’t want anyone else to know about this problem other than themselves but as a result the word has spread around and people want to help them.

People from around the world have taken action upon this to help the people of Vietnam gain back its independency from its own government. There have been many trends such as hashtags on social media across the world, this has raised awareness to those who will help stop the contamination of fish. One of these trends is #Ichoosefish, which means they choose fish over metal in their fish products. Some people are trying to stop this but since Vietnam is a Communist state, this results in discrimination and excessive force towards them by their own government.

Ways we can help is by bringing more awareness to this, there have been petition sign ins to help the people of Vietnam to stop this from spreading to other countries. Bringing more awareness to this, the government will now have to take action since they can’t just deny this anymore. We need to stop this fish production pollution from spreading and affecting everyone else, not only the Vietnamese.

9/  Salvador Chavez- Vietnam’s Environmental Crisis Reflection

Upon reading the article “millions of dead fish washing up on Vietnam’s shores” written by Jessica Ramos, I began to question how we could allow such environmental disasters to occur in the 21st century. The modern era of technology and medicine have advanced human intelligence to an all time high, making it almost impossible to accept the fact that the Vietnamese government and its officials would allow dirty industry corporations to cause harm to not only vietnam aquatic life but also the vietnamese civilian population in return for economic prosperity.

The seriousness of Vietnam’s social effects can be seen by the reader to to the valid information of revolutionary movements and protests in the communist state. This is a social affair that must be acknowledged by none other than the Vietnamese government which holds the responsibility to govern and protect the Vietnamese way of life, not destroy Vietnamese agriculture through adaptations of dirty industry policies such as ; coal production , and high levels of untreated wastewater which bring many environmental issues such as contamination of sea life and an unsafe source of water for the civilian population of Vietnam.

Personally, I believe that in this case, the citizens that are rising up and protesting such environmental issues are doing the right thing; for they are doing what their governments can’t do which is acknowledge the true value of Vietnamese sea life and human rights. If this kind of activity continues ,  I hope for increased publication of the topic in order to gain foreign support for the Vietnamese protesters who only want to restore peace and introduce a healthy clean environment for Vietnam’s aquatic life.

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10/ Lay Hak – Millions of Dead Fish Epidemic

Based on the articles of the millions of fishes that were poisoned, in my opinion, the current environmental crisis in Vietnam is really bad. For one thing: the contaminated water can stretch all over South East Asia creating a large problem for fishermen. Many fishermen wouldn’t be able to provide for their family or even eat. Since the fish are poisoned by the toxic waste, that makes the fish inedible. This could eventually effect the world’s food source, which can affect large populations that mainly eat food from the sea. Lots of corporations dump waste all around the world which could eventually upset the equilibrium of the ocean. This means within a few centuries, the world have no aquatic life.

Another major issue is the corruption in the government of Vietnam. The Vietnamese government is closing their eyes and letting the corporations dump the harmful toxins into the Southeast of Asia. Instead of taking actions against the corporations with regards to  dumping wastes irresponsibly, the government was silenced because they were bribed. The citizens decided to protest against the corruption and demanded transparency from their government. The government, being all greedy, put lots of protester into jail. Looking towards the future, the corruption will probably not stop. Which put many people’s life at risk from either being in prison or starving to death. Many in the government being fueled and corrupted by money do not respect the value of nature. Focusing only on profit , the companies and Vietnam’s government collaborate against the wishes of Vietnamese people, creating large depletions of mother nature and habitats that affect not only Vietnam but all around the world.

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11/ Mario Garcia

Millions of fish and sea wildlife have been dying from consuming toxins dumped from possibly a multi billion dollar company named Formosa. Many fishermen witnessed the sea of dead fish extending for miles. By April 29, approximately 80 tons of fish has been washed up ashore of four central provinces in Vietnam. On May 6, about more than 100 tons of dead fish has been collected.

Many sea life wash up on the shore of beaches dead. Many activists protested, demanding for the situation to be investigated and find out who’s to blame. The communist government orders police to beat up and arrest these activist to keep them from expressing their anger. At Least 100,000 had signed a petition calling President Barack Obama to raise the issue in his visit to Vietnam in May. The United Nations has called upon the Vietnamese government to make sure that the Vietnamese people get the safe food and clean water bodies.

After reading many articles about the environmental crisis in Vietnam. I realized that the company, Formosa, was one of the companies who can possibly be the cause of the disaster. However, the Vietnamese government denied that they are to blame. Formosa Ha Tinh has been linked to numerous environmental issues before, so this did not surprise many of us. Formosa admitted that the company had a 1.5 km. pipe leading to the ocean.

I believe that the Vietnam government should listen to the protesters because it would help find a solution to this environmental crisis. The millions of dead fish brought Vietnam the message that polluting the sea life has its consequences. I would want that other countries come out and help Vietnam with their crisis because we all share the same ocean water and we wouldn’t want it to consists of toxic wastes.

12/ Bethany Maldonado- “The sea is dying?”

Since the early days of April of 2016, Vietnam has come across the worst environmental problem they have ever had and a widespread social unrest. Millions of dead fishes have been washed up across some 200 km of the coasts of Vietnam. There are mainly four affected provinces; Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue. According to the experts early in this month (May), the people have  found at least 100 tons of dead fishes, which were based on the reports from the four affected provinces and excluding the dead fishes that were in the water. This central coastal region is regarded as the country’s most vulnerable and poorest area and whose coastal population mainly lives by fishing and aquaculture, which have also died in the mass. Now due to this plague these fishermen and aqua-farmers are having a harder time than they used to have. This problem has come across the country and have angered its citizens and had to make a hard decision of neither catching fish or building a modern steel industry because they wouldn’t be able to have both. One example of this issue is the steel company Formosa Plastics Corporation from Taiwan that has been known for contaminating the seas and its fishes. Up until now, after almost two months, the government still haven’t taken care of and announced who created this catastrophe. It is well known that the politicians, authorities and experts already know the cause and culprit of this problem but they haven’t come clean and admit the problems to their citizens. All these factors have, therefore, incensed  the public; the people of Vietnam took to the streets, expressing their disagreement and the incompetence of their government through social media because the state media is controlled by the government. The dying of  poisoned fish has direct environmental consequences to VN, and eventually can cause serious economic crisis, especially for the people who live and work in the fishery industry. Now In the middle of this fish die-off crisis, a teacher in Ha Tinh (the most affected province) composed a poem that describes the odd, weird and sad things currently happening in Vietnam- with one line saying that “the sea is dying” and an uncertain and pessimistic future the country is/will facing. Reading and thinking about this I came across with the idea of how important is to take care of our environment. Our own actions on a daily basis and the policies set out by the government can build or destroy a whole country.

13/ Zaira Medrano- 2016 Vietnam Fish Kill

The Vietnam fishes keep dying because of the water pollution crisis affecting four provinces in central Vietnam: Ha Tinh,Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien, Hue. The fishes were washed up dead on a beach in Ha Tinh beach. No one know for sure the true cause. Until now, it is only concluded by overseas scientists that toxic chemicals caused the massive fish deaths. Poor fish.

The most likely cause is Formosa steel plant. The Plant even admitted that there are sewage pipes from the plant and dumping wastes into the ocean. It was reported that some 300 tons of chemicals were imported by Formosa in order to clean the pipe.

Formosa Ha Tinh is a multi-billion dollar steel plant, run by a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Corporation, which has had a bad record of environmental issues worldwide. On 6 May, the amount of collected dead fish surpassed 100 tons.  The Vietnamese government announced a ban of processing and selling seafood caught within 20 nautical miles of central central province, but did not shut down Formosa. According to the local government of Quang Binh, the fishermen of this province have already lost $5.2 million; in addition, the incident also heavily impacted the tourism industry as 30% tourists canceled their tours to the province for the national holiday starting on 30 April.

I feel really bad that this is happening. I think that it’s not right for foreign companies to be messing up our oceans and killing all those poor fishes. It’s just not fair. We should do something about this and what worries me is that  there are thousands of dead fish in south Vietnam’s rivers as well. It came as no surprise however because water in the ocean flows, carrying all that’s in it. Another thing is that when the Vietnamese people want answers and transparency from the government, they routinely got beaten up and taken to jails by their own government. That again is not fair and not right.

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to Reflections on Ocean Pollution in Vietnam

  1. Pingback: Những bài toán ngổn ngang…. | VTMP

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