Vietnam bans breeding of leeches, edible snails
Dec 5, 2011, 5:48 GMT
Hanoi - Vietnam has outlawed the breeding and trading of leeches and is to enforce the ban on farming edible snails, as rising numbers are threatening the local ecosystem, authorities said Monday.
The leech ban was issued on Thursday, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Vu Van Tam told dpa.
'This is an urgent matter now and the ban will help us control and prevent the negative consequences of breeding leeches and invasive snails,' he said.
Leech breeding has become more popular on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City in recent months as demand has risen from traders serving the traditional medicine market in China.
According to local media, the price of a kilogram of leeches in China rose from 70 dollars in April 2010 to up to 100 dollars in April this year.
State-run news has reported recent cases of leeches overrunning communities, with some families saying the carnivorous worms were coming through their drains into their homes.
Increasing numbers of golden apple snails are also threatening the environment. According to the Agriculture Ministry, the snails destroyed 11,500 hectares of rice this year, worth several million dollars.
The snails, Pomacea canaliculata, are indigenous to South America and were first introduced to Vietnam in 1988 as high-protein duck and fish food.
A ban on farming the snails was introduced in 1992 but had not been thoroughly enforced.