Vietnam plans levy heavy fines for invasive plant violations

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Bringing invasive plant species into Vietnam or nurturing them in the country may soon be punishable with fines up to VND100 million (US$4,800).

Under a recent proposal made by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, violators would receive fines between VND40 and 100 million, ordered to destroy the plants or take them out of Vietnam.

The ministry can approve exceptions to the rule, says the proposal which is now open for opinions from scientists and the public.

Once passed, the punishments would be the first specific ones for the acts in Vietnam.

A circular released in July 2011 by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment defined invasive species as those which invade the local habitat and cause harm to naturally-occurring species or disturb the ecological balance in the areas they live.

The ministry in the same month issued a list of 33 invasive species found in Vietnam, including the red-eared slider, the Cuban crocodile, the nutria, four kinds of viruses, six invertebrates, nine kinds of fish and 11 kinds of plants.

Many of those species are found on the list of the world's 100 most dangerous invasive species, some of which were brought to Vietnam by foreign dealers who managed to talk local farmers into raising them for profits.

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