Offshore sand exploitation by foreign ships off Vietnam’s Phu Quoc Island for the past year has affected the marine environment in the region, local authorities said.
|The Pacific Princess Singapore ship, with sand loaded on it, was seen from Ganh Dau Commune, Phu Quoc Island District, last month|
The exploitation, which has been carried out off the island district’s Ganh Dau Commune near Vietnam’s territorial sea, has caused erosion to the Phu Quoc Island’s coast, with the sand band being narrowed and eroded, uprooting many coconuts and pineapple trees, the authorities said.
Pham Huu Kiet, deputy chairman of the Ganh Dau Commune People’s Committee, said this problem was beyond the authority of the committee. “So we have reported to higher levels for consideration,” Kiet said.
On October 30, Tuoi Tre visited the area and found two large ships and a barge being docked about 3 nautical miles from Ganh Dau.
One of them named Pacific Princess 1 Singapore is about 100 m long and 20 m wide. An employee of a sea transport company estimated that the ship’s load could amount to 10,000 tons.
The second ship is Pacific Princess Singapore, which was about one nautical mile from the first.
The sand on the ships as well as the barge could be seen from a distance.
Nguyen Van Nhan, a local fisherman, who once supplied fresh water to the foreign ships, said they had exploited sand there for about one year.
According to Kien Giang Province’s authorities, the exploitation has caused sand slides on Chuong Vit and Bai Dai beaches in Ganh Dau.
In addition, noises and tremor caused by exploitation activities have also affected sea animals.
A number of fishermen complained that their fishing output had declined since the sand exploitation began.
Pacific Princess 1 Singapore and Pacific Princess Singapore were found exploiting sand in an area off the Phu Quoc Island District’s Ganh Dau Commune, near Vietnam’s territorial sea (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
Nguyen Hong Cuong, director of the Phu Quoc Sea Conversation Zone, confirmed that the exploitation of sand on the seabed had posed a threat to the local marine environment.
Exploitation activities will stir up layers of deposits, which will then be driven by the sea current to cover coral reels and see grass. If such a situation is prolonged, those coral reels and sea grass will die, Cuong said.
There are 33.2 hectares of coral reels on the area’s seabed, he added.
In addition, the sand exploitation will create deep holes on the seabed and sand from higher areas will flow into to them, causing erosion to the Phu Quoc sandbank.
Nguyen Phu Nam, former head of the Phu Quoc District Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said when the sandbank was undermined, trees around the Phu Quoc beach would find it hard to survive.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is investigating the case.