Rotten fish, brought to advanced states of decay by the sheer heat of the sun has long been regarded as one of the single most vomit-inducing scents known to man, not far behind out of date eggs, sweat-lathered pubic hair and mystery fluid found outside a Welsh sexual health clinic. Alas, poor Tay Ho is currently lungs-deep in the effluvium of potentially thousands of dead fish as everyone grapples for a better understanding of exactly why there are so many carp corpses washing up on the banks of West Lake.
I warn you now dear reader, no-one has yet determined the cause of this mass fish death. Speculation has reigned supreme over the facts, which are sadly scant, scarce and yet to emerge. Whether this is due to the recent bowel-boiling heat-wave, a lethal build-up of water pollution or the act of vengeful and callous god is yet to be confirmed by Vietnamese authorities, who are apparently looking into the matter.
VOV (Voice of Vietnam) yesterday reported that various individuals had been scooping up the dead fish as a source of compost, fertiliser and food for pets. Fear not though, VOV also stated that one of the first official decrees from the People’s Committee in response to the dead fish mystery was to “prohibit the use of dead fish for food.” While this may reassure seafood lovers across the city to an extent, the more concerning fact is that once again, a horde of blank-eyed limp fish have washed up on the scenic banks of Hanoi’s most iconic lake. As VOV noted, this isn’t the first time the banks of West Lake had been littered with the mysterious corpses of fish, “These are not the first dead fish in West Lake. Many people believe that the cause of the dead fish is due to environmental pollution in West Lake water [that] leads to asphyxiation of oxygen or due to weather changes.”
The last time was back in October 2016, when over ten tonnes of dead fish were found floating lifelessly decomposing on the surface of West Lake. According to VietNamNet, the 2016 mass death in West Lake was explained by then Chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee, Nguyen Duc Chung who suggested that “Initial test results from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment showed that the fish died from lack of oxygen.”
Whether or not such a simple explanation will be proffered up this time around is, as of yet, unclear, but with limited understanding to be garnered from Vietnamese news outlets, Hanoi holds its breath – if not to escape the stench of rotting fish, then at least to establish why there are so many dead fish in this beautiful city.