Exotic species sold in Vietnam through legal loopholes
VietNamNet Bridge - Though Vietnam has a legal framework to control exotic species, dangerous species are still used in the country because of loopholes in legal documents and mismanagement.
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One month ago, when tom hum do (red lobster), or Procambarus clarkia, was found in the rice fields in Dong Thap, the warning about the invasion of dangerous species was issued.

Locals call the aggressive shrimp’10 pincer shrimp’. It has two strong forelegs which can break rice in half, and therefore, can cause serious damage to crops and the environment.

Prior to that, many intentional invasions of dangerous exotic species had been reported, from yellow snails to red-ear turtle and Chinese cockroaches (Eupolyphaga sinensis). 

Drastic measures to prevent species invasion at the border gates were not carried out. Only when exotic species began to increase in Vietnam did scientists report about the invasion and state management agencies discuss how to eliminate them. 

Though Vietnam has a legal framework to control exotic species, dangerous species are still used in the country because of loopholes in legal documents and mismanagement.

Twenty years ago, yellow snails were brought to Vietnam for trial farming in hopes of turning it into a food source for humans and animals. Only some years later, when the yellow snail multiplied rapidly and caused serious damage to rice fields did management agencies realize that they had made a wrong decision. 

Hundreds of billions of dong were spent to kill the harmful snail which affected 8,500 hectares of rice field, and invaded 6,000 hectares of ponds and lakes and hundreds of kilometers of rivers and canals.

In 2000, Vietnam once again imported chuot hai ly (Myocastor coypus bonariensis) for trial breeding. And later, it realized that the animal brought germs of dangerous diseases to Vietnam.

In 2010, it was red-ear turtle which caused problems to Hanoians. The turtle is listed among the 100 most dangerous invasive species in the world with salmonenlta, the bacteria that causes typhoid.

An analyst commented that invasive species had not caught appropriate attention from state management agencies until the first half of 1990s, when Mekong and Red River Deltas suffered from the yellow snail outbreak. In other words, there are ‘loopholes’ in state agencies’ management over imported species. 

The analyst pointed out that the overlap in management functions undertaken by state agencies makes it ineffective to control exotic species. 

Under the current regulations, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is in charge of importing and controlling varieties, plants and animals, but it is the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) to control invasive species.

Meanwhile, the public is not unaware of the risks from invasive species. Dong Thap’s people said they did not know which species could be bred and which could not.


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Thanh Mai

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