The fishery co-management method has been proven in practice all over the world and is recognised as one of the most effective solutions for managing aquatic resources. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), and many other international organizations have voiced support for the increasing application of this management approach, particularly in countries with small-scale craft fishing.
Since the early 1990s, many models of co-management in the fisheries sector have been implemented and piloted in Vietnam, with funding from the state budget and international aid sources. According to incomplete statistics, more than 200 co-management models in fisheries have been applied across the country to date. In general, most co-management models contribute to positive outcomes in the following areas: aquatic resource protection and development, reduction of destructive and destructive fishing methods, raising incomes, raising people's awareness of environmental protection and aquatic resources, improving people's self-governance and sense of resource mastery, and improving livelihoods toward long-term development.
The regulation on co-management in the protection of aquatic resources was introduced into the legal system of Vietnam for the first time in 2017 in the Law on Fisheries (Law No. 18/2017/QH14 dated 21/11/2017), creating an important legal basis for the implementation of co-management in order to protect and sustainably develop aquatic resources in Vietnam. Following this, the Government issued Decree No. 26/2019/ND-CP dated 8/3/ 2019, detailing a number of articles and measures to implement the Fisheries Law.
On March 11, 2021, the Prime Minister signed Decision No. 339/QD-TTg approving the "Strategy to develop Vietnam's fisheries to 2030, with a vision to 2045," which clearly states one of the important orientations in the field of fishery resource protection and development: "Strengthening the implementation of co-management in the protection of aquatic resources, delegating management rights to community organizations in the protection of aquatic resources." These are strong legal fundamentals for implementing co-management in the protection of aquatic resources in Vietnam.
It can be stated that the use of co-management in the protection of aquatic resources is a step in the right direction toward developing a civilized and democratic management method that is appropriated for the characteristics of fishery production, ensuring the sharing of benefits and responsibilities of organizations and individuals in benefiting from the exploitation and use of aquatic resources, as well as sustainable and effective development. This can be viewed as an important task for the fisheries sector in terms of reorganizing production and protecting resources; promoting socialization, attracting social organizations and fishing communities to participate in sustainable and effective resource exploitation, use, and protection; and contributing to improving livelihoods, creating jobs, increasing incomes, and raising living standards for fishing communities.
Developing some co-managed conservation areas.
The Directorate of Fisheries is implementing Resolution 36 on the marine economy, fisheries strategy, and sector planning, with the goal of increasing the area for aquatic resource protection and conservation to 6% by 2030.
The Directorate of Fisheries is collaborating with non-governmental organizations to create a number of co-management conservation areas. Binh Dinh currently has 11 models of aquatic resource co-management in 20 coastal and lagoon communes/wards, including three large models in Tra O lagoon, North Thi Nai lagoon, and the Quy Nhon Bay sea area; in Binh Thuan, there are four communes that co-manage and protect feather scallops very successfully; at first, anchoring was organized to prevent fishing boats from coming in, people bought and dropped shellfish by themselves, and so far, the exploitation of feather scallops here is steady; Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa) has four communes involved in coral reefsreeves co-management... These are models for protecting aquatic resources while also providing jobs for local residents.
Although positive outcomes have been obtained, the implementation of co-management in localities continues to face many challenges, with most communities still confused about how to implement co-management under the 2017 Fisheries Law. The number of coastal communes currently implementing and consolidating co-management under the Fisheries Law 2017 is still very small, in comparison to the potential and importance of this management method.
According to the Center for Marine Life Conservation and Community Development (MCD), co-management is a process that requires the participation and commitment of many parties; effective coordination between governments at all levels, community organizations, and stakeholders is one of the core factors for the success of co-management in aquatic resource protection.
Communication and raising awareness are important. It is critical to continuously improve local officials' and the population's awareness and understanding of aquatic resource protection and sustainable use, as well as mechanisms and policies to develop co-management in aquatic resource protection, particularly in the spirit of the 2017 Fisheries Law.
Because fishing communities have varying starting points and local contexts, it is necessary to learn and share experiences based on common approaches/technical guidance. The implementation of co-management is dependent on the context of each locality, and external organizations supporting the promotion must also be creative in order to comply with the law and promote the management agency's experience, background, and initiative. grassroots State administration and community organizations.
The goal of co-management in aquatic resource protection must always be linked to the development of community livelihoods. One of the factors that contribute to the success of co-management in the protection of aquatic resources is the development of sustainable community livelihoods in a respectful relationship of interests between industries and communities. The delegation of rights to manage and protect aquatic resources to community organizations must be considered as a chance to develop community livelihoods rather than a burden on aquatic resource protection.
Securing financial resources through acceptable financial and credit mechanisms and policies is a critical factor in the development of long-term co-management. Co-management efforts must be socialized and participatory (linked to government programs such as the New Rural Program and OCOP; connecting businesses and associations, etc.). The Provincial Fund for the Protection and Development of Fisheries Resources, as well as Community Funds, serve as the foundation for ensuring a long-term financial source for the development of the co-management method.
Furthermore, the fishing community is a critical component in the implementation of co-management. Promoting tradition, utilizing and utilizing indigenous knowledge in conjunction with capacity building, understanding of laws in the exploitation and protection of aquatic resources, biodiversity protection, and fisherman's ecosystem protection in order to organize and build co-management models are effective measures to ensure successful co-management. Communities must understand how to promote their own autonomy, strength, and internal resources while also utilizing external support resources. There should be no attitude of completely relying on the support of the state or other stakeholders.