The prolonged drought and saltwater have damaged more than 81,000 hectares of shrimp breeding areas in eight Mekong provinces, according to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of Aquaculture.
Due to the impact of El Nino, in 2016 the average temperature of Mekong provinces was 0.1 – 1.5 oC higher than in previous years, the highest temperature ranging between 33oC and 37oC.
Average rainfall in the Mekong Delta was 30 to 50 per cent lower than in previous years, but in some areas, rainfall was 80 per cent lower than in other years.
The region was affected by drought in the first half of 2016.
In the dry season of 2015 – 2016, due to shortages of freshwater, saltwater intruded into rivers and canals in the region two months earlier than usual.
Saltwater has reached 50 to 70 km from the estuaries.
“It’s the environmental conditions and bad weather that have caused freshwater shortages and an increase of salinity, unfavourable conditions for shrimp breeding. They have had a negative impact on the region’s shrimp breeding industry,” a spokesman of the Aqua-Culture Department said.
Mekong provinces Long An, Tiền Giang, Bến Tre, Trà Vinh, Sóc Trăng, Bạc Liêu, Cà Mau and Kiên Giang have been damaged by the drought and saltwater intrusion.
Cà Mau farmers suffered the biggest losses, followed by the shrimp breeding ponds in Kiên Giang, Bạc Liêu and Sóc Trăng.
Salinity measured on the rivers in Cà Mau reached 3.6 – 4.2 per cent, and 4.0 to 5.5 per cent in breeding ponds. The salinity in areas far from rivers was higher than in coastal areas in the province.
Losses caused by the drought and salinity intrusion incurred by Cà Mau are estimated at VNĐ260 billion (US$11.7 million).
Addressing a meeting in Bạc Liêu on Thursday, Vũ Văn Tám, Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, said the drought and salinity intrusion had seriously affected the shrimp breeding in areas in the Mekong Delta.
It’s the environmental conditions and bad weather that have caused freshwater shortages and an increase of salinity, unfavourable conditions for shrimp breeding.
Spokesman from Vietnam’s Aqua-culture Department
Tám said support was needed for families who earn their living from shrimp farming. He also asked provincial authorities to assess the damages suffered by Mekong provinces.
He told provincial authorities of Cà Mau, Kiên Giang and Bạc Liêu, which have been the hardest hit, to send work teams to districts to help local farmers cope with the difficulties caused by natural disasters.
“The provincial authorities must confirm areas and households affected by the drought and saltwater, and issue support policies to the affected farmers,” said Tám.
He also warned of the impact of La Nina and urged local farmers to pay attention to weather forecasts to minimise damages from La Nina.
According to Cà Mau People’s Committee, by the end of April 2016, the drought and saltwater damaged areas of 52,000 ha cultivated by 36,000 households in the province.
Over 14,000 households have faced water shortages, including 8,000 families who need fresh-water supply in Cà Mau.
The provincial authorities provided poor families VNĐ20,000 for each cubic metre of fresh water purchased by these families.
They have also supplied residents on Hòn Chuối Island 120 cu.m of fresh water free of charge every day.
In addition, the chairman of Cà Mau People’s Committee, Nguyễn Tiến Hải, has instructed departments and agencies in the province to focus on measures to combat drought and saltwater intrusion.
The province has sped up construction of irrigation works with a total investment of VNĐ18 billion ($810,000), which is expected to help minimise the impact of drought and salinity intrusion