Environmental preservation and conservation have been a problem in Taiwan. In fact, the quality of air and water in most Taiwanese cities is among the worst in the world. The country’s leadership has been struggling to address environmental concerns, and in most instances, such issues have eroded the legitimacy of government authority. In 2016, an incident occurred involving a Taiwanese-based steel plant that was blamed for releasing toxic materials into water that led to the massive death of fish. It was revealed that the four provinces affected included Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien (VnExpress n.p). However, this is not the first time that the country has been at crossroads with environmental crusaders. In 2015, plans were underway to cut down over 6,700 trees in Hanoi to pave the way for a landscaping project. These plans were met with widespread protests both in social media and in the streets. The paper discusses the impacts of the environmental incident of 2016 when toxic waste materials from a steel company were released into water leading to the massive death of fish.
Impacts and Effects
According to the government, toxic discharges from a Taiwanese-based steel plant was responsible for the deaths of fish, which in the process directly decimated the fishing industry while indirectly impacting on other sectors of the economy (VnExpress n.p). Fishing activities were affected in four provinces and highlighted the magnitude of the incident to foreign investment. It was revealed that an estimated 70 tonnes of dead fish were washed downstream through an expanded 200 km along the central coastline space (Ives n.p). This sparked widespread protests that saw the company deny any wrongdoing. However, the government responded by affirming that the company had owned up to their action and was ready to compensate the affected. The compensation was to address environmental concerns sparked by their action elaborately and also help affected fishermen find other jobs. Later, it was discovered that toxic components were released in water during one of their routine testing process of ensuring efficiency (Ives n.p). Initially, the government was reluctant to put the company to task because it is one of the largest foreign investments in Vietnam. This is anchored on the assertion that the Taiwanese government strives to boost the economy and reduce poverty by allowing an influx of foreign investors.
The action of discharging solid waste into water impacted negatively on the Taiwanese environment. It also introduced mercury into water whose buildup was problematic. Studies reveal that mercury poisons drinking water and can be dangerous to children, pregnant mothers, and elderly members of the population (Eisenberg et al. n.p). In light of this, mercury introduced into water leads to damage and failure of the central nervous system of people. In respect to the Taiwanese case, materials introduced into water contaminated it and thereby impacted negatively on the health of people who used contaminated water. Research has established that mercury poisons fish, which in turn may poison other animals that eat them, as well as humans (Eisenberg et al. n.p). Further, plants were exposed to unwanted chemicals, the high exposure for a long period made it difficult for them to absorb nutrients that led to malnourishment. Contaminated runoff water causes stomach upsets, ulcers, and cancer when consumed. Even though it is not known how many people were affected by contaminated runoff water, many complained of stomach discomfort after using contaminated water.
Waste discharge promoted the growth of algae that became problematic as they got out of control. Despite algae being an important part of the environment ecosystem, its accelerated growth made it difficult for nature to fix. Environmentalists opine that growth of algae is often caused by nutrients in the water becoming too prevalent to the extent of upsetting ecosystem balance (Eisenberg et al. n.p). Significantly, when algae blossoms in water, the fish in such habitats can quickly suffocate and die. This might have contributed to deaths of some fish in the four provinces. Moreover, it was revealed that algae eventually choked out plan life, especially along the coastlines because they surpassed weed (Eisenberg et al. n.p). Perhaps one of the biggest impacts that waste discharge had on the environment was the spread of infectious diseases. As pointed out earlier, consumption of food with chemicals is dangerous because it is the breeding ground of bacteria and parasites that lead to disease almost immediately. Sustainability of the environment to accommodate and support flora and fauna in Taiwan was affected by the introduction of foreign substances in waters, in that way suffocating and killing water creatures and plants.
Large quantities of water pollutants pose a threat to water creatures and impacts immediately as measured by large-scale sudden mortalities of aquatic organisms such as fish. Evidence allude that the results, which may occur long after the pollutants have passed through the environment, include immunosuppression, reduced metabolism, and damage to gills and epithelia (Clasen et al. n.p). The areas affected by discharged waste into the waters became increasingly aware of the economic impact of the actions of the company. The fishing industry groups lamented of greater losses incurred due to massive death of fish, which was the livelihood of many and the economy at large. The local populations were thrilled by how the government had decided to put the company to task and take responsibility for the incident. “There were no fish or shrimp for fishermen to catch, seafood farming was impossible, and the tourism industry had also been affected” (VnExpress n.p). It was further explained that local fishermen in the four provinces could not effortlessly shift to new economic activities because fishing was the only expertise that they had having practiced for long (VnExpress n.p). This incident affected seafood exportation to other regions and countries as a result of the massive death of fish.
Many fish processing companies were unable to process and export seafood and fish products because the supply had dropped tremendously. The news of contamination and death of fish spread to different markets, and the impact was drastic. Dead fish could not be exported, and the few that were alive were unsafe for consumption. As a result, the impact of unsafe seafood led to product recall, market closures and bans, and loss of confidence in seafood products from Taiwan. For that matter, it was difficult to regain customer confidence and access new markets for exports later. Therefore, it was paramount for fish industry players to put in place structures to prevent the reoccurrence of the problem. Nevertheless, fish and seafood contamination was not a new problem because many countries in one way or the other had to deal with water contamination and death of water creatures. However, currently, water contamination is a growing concern and most significantly, how it causes illness of Shellfish. Seafood processing and exportation to markets were affected directly thereby reducing revenue to support the economy.
Logistics and supply chain
Logistics and supply chain entails a broad array of activities performed between production and consumption. In other words, logistics and supply chain encompass activities of a fisherman, transport to processing plants, and ultimately to the consumers in local and international markets. Logistically, there are stages involved in the process of transport through fishery marketing corporations and sales to external markets. Moreover, individual fishermen also sell in wholesale while corporations ship the products through exports. Fishing is one of the main economic activities in Taiwan and therefore the need to ensure that logistical processes move smoothly. The logistics and supply chain channels are strengthened efficiently to ensure that perishable products reach processing plants or markets faster. However, the event of 2016 potentially disrupted the logistical and supply chain activities and plans. The entire system was disrupted as there were reduced fish to transport, process, and export.
Disruption as a result of the lost product is a major concern to all parties involved in the supply chain. In this case, it negatively impacted on the supply of fish from the fishermen to the end customers and therefore affecting the free flow of revenue through the system. Studies reveal that such disruptions may go unexposed on unnoticed until the repercussion occurs (Viet Nam News n.p). In line with this, the company responsible for the death of fish initially denied any wrongdoing until stakeholders protested. In resolve of addressing the damages, the company agreed to compensate all the parties that were involved. However, logistics and supply chain stakeholders were the biggest losers because compensation was only meant for a few.
Infrastructure is critical for economic growth and development of a country. For instance, roads provide access for movement of people and goods from one place to another. Likewise, dams provide freshwater for economic use by people in the community. On the same note, shoreline structures provide access to economic resources reserve in water bodies. Studies reveal that infrastructure is a necessary part of the development associated with a growing human population, but it can also have devastating impacts on the environment (Viet Nam News n.p). For that matter, oil spill or leakage from pipes may eventually kill living organisms in water leaving the water polluted unsuitable for the survival of fish.
The company responsible for unwanted waste discharge that led to the death of fish did not address environmental concerns during the establishment of the enterprise. It is worth mentioning that industry players must always encourage investors to consider sustainability. This can be done through an examination of initiatives aimed at reducing environmental impact and protecting sensitive habitat that may be irreversibly damaged by investment projects. In respect to the Taiwanese case, the introduction of foreign materials interrupted the natural flow of water and in the process disrupting the movement of sediment. In fact, dead fish caused clogging and blockage of waterways and increased the risk of floods that hampered navigations. Blocked water reservoirs also prevented the migratory behavior of fish and in a way stopped them from accessing spawning and feeding sites, contributing to the continued loss of freshwater fish species. This may also apply to other wildlife whose movement may be impeded as a result of the introduction of foreign materials in the water leading to blockage. Environmentalists opine that numerous animals often migrate in search of food, mates and other resources required for their survival (Clasen et al. n.p). For that matter, blockage and disruption of infrastructure through pollution is detrimental because it may push wildlife towards extinction.
Effects on the Domestic and International Industry
It is revealed that this was one of the largest environmental disasters; it threatened to wipe out all marine life off the central coastline and significantly lagged the domestic economy behind. Significantly, gross domestic product lagged behind ever since this environmental disaster occurred. Economic surveys have consistently avowed that Vietnam runs of the most resilient economy in Asia, however, after the incident the economy started becoming unstable (Shannon n.p). The drop in economic growth was supported by figures pointing out that there was a drop in growth from 6.53 to 5.93 in January-September 2017 as compared to 2015 same period (Shannon n.p). Domestically, the agricultural industry was the worst hit by the disaster coupled with unfavorable weather conditions witnessed as a result of global warming and greenhouse effect. “The environmental incident engineered by Taiwan-owned steel factory Formosa along a 200km stretch of Vietnam’s central coast added an extra blow to aquatic farming” (VnExpress n.p). On the contrary, countrywide fishing output increased by 2.9 percent due to overfishing in other areas; however, the environmental incident considerably halted fishing along the central coastline affecting numerous households. Overfishing in other areas was aimed at sufficing and meeting both domestic and international demand; however, it raised severe issues for sustainability of marine life.
Today, the fishing industry is hard hit by reduced fishing output. That is, all the four provinces affected by the environmental incident are worst affected, and this translates to national performance and other sectors such as tourism. “The disaster affected the livelihood of more than 200,000 people, including 41,000 fishermen” (Shannon n.p). Domestic economy, with respect to agriculture, is worst affected just the same as the fishing industry and as a result, the gross domestic product has drastically dropped. According to a local media outlet, the impacts of the incident may last for years, affecting some industries (Shannon n.p). The local economy was greatly affected by the environmental incident. This is supported by the resolve of the company to compensate local fishermen and cleaning of the affected environment.
Internationally, the incident has greatly affected exports and foreign exchange. The incident painted Vietnam in a bad light and as a result tarnished its reputation due to consistent protests by environmental activists and crusaders. Most importantly, there has been slow growth in the economy because of slowdown in agriculture, mining and tourism sectors. Economists confirmed that GDP of Vietnam reduced by 0.28 percent, this was largely attributed to dipping of the mining economy by 3.6 percent during the same period (VnExpress n.p). The country heavily relies on international business through export of coal and crude oil to support its economic growth and development. However, due to diminishing world economy, attention has been shifted to other economic sectors such as manufacturing, production, tourism among others. “The country has been addressing the challenges facing the economy, and as a result, the Asian Development Bank predicted that Vietnam’s economy was likely to grow by 6 percent in 2016, down from the ADB’s June forecast of 6.7 percent” (VnExpress n.p). The country heavily relies on revenues from the exportation of crude oil to support the economy and supplement the other sectors not doing well currently. In response to failing economy, the government ensured that others sectors of the economy performed well if the assertion of protesters was credible. It was revealed that the government turned a blind eye to the crisis and ensured that investments in others sectors were kept rolling (Ralph n.p). A report by Bloomberg revealed that the steel company was considering raising its investments in Ha Tinh from $10.5 billion to $28.5 billion at the time (Ralph n.p). However, it was important for international investors to respect local environmental regulations and shoulder corporate social responsibility in most cases to improve the international image of Taiwan and its foreign relations. As part of supporting the economy, the government aimed at safeguarding the rights of investing companies while promoting the safety of people and protection of property.
International shipping operations were not adversely affected because this is one of the most regulated sectors in Taiwan. Moreover, it is the first sector that adopts widely implemented international standards while being conscious of environmental requirements and concerns. Furthermore, regulations supporting shipping are developed globally, and each country must adhere to international standards and requirements. Shipping experts reveal that because shipping is inherently international, it is vital that shipping is subject to uniform regulations on matters such as construction standards, navigational rules, and standards of crew competence (Ralph n.p). For the sake of Taiwan, export and import business continued in spite the environmental incident. As pointed out early, fishing continued in other areas apart from the four provinces affected. Despite sustainability issues arising as a result of overfishing to meet market demands, the output and revenue were moderated. Failure to meet international market demands would compromise the efficiency of world trade, Taiwan’s economy continued to be flexible and robust.
The paper has succinctly elaborated on the environmental incident witnessed in 2016, where a Taiwanese based steel company released waste materials into water leading to the massive death of fish. This incident affected four provinces in the country. The company owned up and agreed to compensate the affected in addition to supporting cleaning of the environment. Companies must always implement corporate social responsibility initiatives. The environment was worst affected and in return impacted negatively on flora and fauna. Further, seafood exportation was affected because fishing output reduced in four provinces, logistic and supply chain were also disrupted leading to unprecedented losses to stakeholders. Consequently, the infrastructure was affected impacting negatively on both domestic and international sectors of the economy. The country through other sectors of the economy mitigated the effects and ensured that business activities proceeded as usual. Therefore, it is important for Taiwan to protect their local environment, people and investors by putting in place rules and guidelines to protect each to ensure that the ecosystem is sustainable.
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