The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sea Turtle Still On the Menu in Vietnam

I have no problem with locals developing Binh Thuan Province's Phu Quy island. It's their island, and they have a right to some prosperity. I was interested to find an article today describing a new restaurant on the island, published by the Saigon Times:

Read the full article here

"A fisherman’s dream of building an eco-tourist site"

"Duong Van Vi, a 40-year-old fisherman, has opened a restaurant on Binh Thuan’s Phu Quy Island, to provide tourists to the coastal city with an ideal venue for enjoying seafood while admiring the surrounding scenery."

The headline illustrates a typical misunderstanding that Vietnamese have about the term "ecotourism." For many Vietnamese, even a karaoke bar can be an ecotourism spot it you plant a nice garden outside. Anyway, a restaurant on the island would be great. There's really no place to eat out there. But when I came to the following paragraph, I was a little upset:

"Located at the foot of Thay Tomb relic site, Long Vi Restaurant is a wooden, bungalow style building overlooking the sea. Patrons of the restaurant will experience the unique sensation of hearing the whispers of waves lapping at the shore while they enjoy fresh seafood dishes, which include grouper, lobster, crab, ray, and tortoise."

In the absence of true native tortoises on the island, and given that this is a seafood restaurant, one can only assume tortoise means sea turtle. Sadly, this would not be uncommon. It underscores Vietnam's lack of commitment to international law on trafficking in endangered species. It is also a bit disturbing that the Saigon Times would write about it matter-of-fact as though nothing is wrong.

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