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[Photos] Fish Are Suffocating in the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal

Last week, following an afternoon of heavy rain, social media users captured the sight of thousands of tilapia fish gasping for breath in the murky waters of the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal. 

According to Kenh 14, the beleaguered creatures appeared in droves, poking their heads above the surface as a post-rain deluge left the canal's waters too contaminated for the fish to breathe. 

Along either side of the waterway, fish carcasses collected among the rubbish. While city officials acknowledge the problem, maintaining clean canals is a struggle, as local residents continue to throw rubbish into the water.

“We often clean up the canal in sections,” one environmental worker explained. “However by the time we finish cleaning one area, the previous area is already polluted and we must return to that area again. It only takes five to 10 minutes and we must carry on because the amount of rubbish is too great. But when we tell people to stop, they don't listen and become upset.”

Fishing, too, is an issue. As you might imagine, catching your dinner in the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal isn't exactly healthy – in fact, the city has banned it outright – however this doesn't seem to stop local residents from casting their lines into the water.

Shortly after the bout of heavy rain, fisherman Nguyen Hung Dung of Binh Thanh District visited the canal. “I've never seen so many fish on the water's surface,” he said. “Today, I didn't use any bait and I've still caught over 10 kilos of fish. I just brought them home and now I'm back to fish more.”

Despite allocationg US$450 million to revitalize Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe earlier this year, this is not the first time Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe has experienced such a problem. Rainy season often causes an overflow of sewage to enter the canal, causing its fish to die off in the thousands.

Setting aside water pollution and the health issues which could arise from eating contaminated fish, this does not bode well for the city's newly-unveiled boat tours along Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal. If Saigon is to market its waterways as a potential tourism sight, the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal will need to clean up its act.