Authorities from Vinh Long Province have finally ordered the destruction of a shipment of red-eared slider turtles imported by a Can Tho seafood firm in April.
Can Tho Seafood Import and Export Joint Stock Company (Caseamex) imported nearly 26,400 sliders from the US company Oakland Ninja. More than 8,000 have died awaiting re-export back to the States.
The surviving turtles will be destroyed between September 27 and 30 under a plan agreed upon by Vinh Long and Can Tho's Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Caseamex will cover the cost of the execution but may call on local authorities to assist in carrying out the order.
Police and agricultural officials in Vinh Long and Can Tho have been asked to supervise the destruction of the turtles.
The turtles were first sent to Vinh Long Province to be bred for food. Authorities later demanded that they be sent back to the US or destroyed.
It is said that the species is likely to invade the habitat of local turtles and that it can spread typhoid. The animals have already been spotted in open water throughout the Mekong Delta.
But Caseamex has failed to force the US company to take back the turtles or destroy them.
The order signed by Truong Van Sau, Vice Chairman of Vinh Long People's Committee, said that the importer failed to obey the General Fisheries Office's order to prevent the turtles from spreading into the environment.
And Caseamex never presented a permit allowing the company to import the turtles. Officials from the company have plead ignorance regarding the potential harm the shipment posed to Vietnam's ecosystem.
The red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) is native to North America and was included in the list of the world's 100 worst invasive species by the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) - a global network of scientific and policy experts on invasive species.
Vietnamese conservation experts have complained that the country lacks legal backbone and scientific wherewithal to deal with invasive species from overseas.
The consequences have already been revealed in the case of Mimosa pigra (Giant Sensitive Tree) or "mai duong" in Vietnamese, an American invasive species and one of the world's worst environmental weeds. Worse still are yellow snails (oc buou vang) which have become the nemesis of rice and water spinach crops throughout the country.