Getting powerless in the face of the spontaneous shrimp hatchery movement which once occupied the sand coastal areas in Thang Binh district, local authorities approved a short term project allowing people to breed shrimp on sand on a concentrated area for three years.
However, the short term project cannot help control the massive development of shrimp ponds. Meanwhile, the shrimp ponds, which have brought money to local residents, have eradicated the coastal casuarina forest and caused environmental pollution.
The project with the lack of long term vision
The “technology” of breeding shrimp on sand was imported to the sand area of Thang Binh district in Quang Nam province from the farmers from Quang Ngai province. A movement of breeding shrimp on sand was kicked off. Farmers rushed to destroy the forest, occupy land and dig ponds for shrimp hatchery.
The local authorities, who got puzzled amid the rapid development of shrimp ponds, which were located everywhere, decided to re-design the shrimp hatchery area. In May 2009, the Quang Nam provincial authorities released the decision to approve the short term shrimp hatchery project, which allowed local residents to breed shrimp on the 131 hectare areas belonging to coastal areas of Thang Binh district.
The project aimed to relocate the shrimp ponds created spontaneously before by farmers, while re-arranging the pond network, the water treatment system in order to minimize the pollution.
The local authorities clearly stipulated that they may consider extending the shrimp hatchery after three years, if there is no investment project on tourism or clean industries to be registered.
After the local authorities “turned the green light on” with the short term project, the shrimp hatchery movement has been developing more strongly than ever. A “short-term projected shrimp village” has been stretching three kilometres from the coastal land area to the coastal road across the Binh Hai commune.
In order to expand the shrimp ponds, most of the farmers tried to encroach on the roads. A series of shrimp ponds have been located next to each other, while there is no waste water treatment pond as planned. The beaches have been cut into small pieces to give place to the shrimp ponds. The stinking smell comes from the shrimp feed, waste water all the day long, thus terrifying visitors.
Shrimp ponds getting uncontrollable
In order to have more land for shrimp ponds, hundreds of households destroyed the forests to dig the ponds. Nguyen, a farmer in Binh Hai Commune, related that at first, the shrimp hatchery on sand were restricted. However, later, the local authorities allowed people to develop shrimp ponds on a concentrated area. Everyone in the locality spend money on breeding shrimp.
“I wanted to lease land on the projected area, but I was refused. Therefore, I decided to chop down casuarina to get land for shrimp ponds,” he said.
“I know that I must not do this, but I have to earn money. I could not sit idle and see others making profits from shrimp ponds,” he added.
As a result, the preventive forests which help block sea wave and sand have “gone away” to give place to shrimp ponds. One and all men have rushed to breed shrimps. The untreated waste water from shrimp ponds has caused serious pollution to the environment, especially the hollow underground water system.
At first, the local authorities imposed heavy fines on farmers, but this could not prevent them to continue breaking the regulations.
Nguyen Van Ngu, the district people’s committee admitted that local authorities cannot control the spontaneous of shrimp ponds, saying that the district is reviewing the project before making decision about what to do to both develop the local economy and protect the environment.