Overview of marine protected areas in Vietnam
According to statistics, the sea of Vietnam is located in a high biodiversity (biodiversity) area, ranking 16th among countries with the highest biodiversity in the world, with over 11,000 species of organisms found. About 6,000 species of benthic animals, 2038 fish species, 225 species of sea shrimp are among them, 15 species of sea reptiles, 12 species of aquatic mammals, 5 species of sea turtles, and 43 species of waterfowl (over 100 species of economic fish), 653 species of seaweed, 657 species of zooplankton, 94 species of sea grass, 14 species of seagrass, and more than 400 species of coral. These organisms can be present in over 20 different types of traditional ecosystems, have a high biological productivity, and influence the entire marine area's primary productivity. The aforementioned characteristics, which contribute to the diversity of natural landscapes, biodiversity, and marine resources, are critical for the growth of the marine economy in general and the fisheries economy in particular.
The fisheries industry has made tremendous strides in recent years, developing into a main economic sector for Vietnam and making it one of the world's leading exporters of seafood. In 2019, the overall amount of the fisheries sector's exports was USD 8.6 billion. The overall fishery production was 8.15 million tons, of which 3.77 million tons were exploited, and 4.38 million tons were produced by aquaculture. This result has contributed significantly to the country's economic growth, strengthened livelihoods, and stabilized people's lives in coastal provinces. Marine biodiversity, with an emphasis on marine ecosystems, plays a critical role. As a result, protecting aquatic habitats is a critical challenge that is no longer limited to a single nation or region, but has become a hot news topic and a global concern.
In fact, the marine protected area plays a critical role in sustaining and conserving marine biodiversity, preserving marine ecosystems, protecting the natural environment and natural beauty of the sea, conserving aquatic species of scientific and economic significance, protecting coastal and coastal land strips from coastal erosion, and making a major contribution to climate change adaptation, reducing risks caused by natural disasters in coastal and island areas. In addition, marine protected areas have the effect of harmonizing socio-economic development with environmental conservation, creating green spaces for the marine tourism industry and a variety of other economic sectors to thrive while contributing to the common good as a target set by the Party and the State for the long-term growth of the marine economy.
However, in addition to the achieved results, the marine economy in general and the fisheries sector in particular face various difficulties and challenges, including pollution of the marine environment and the depletion of marine habitats. The decline of marine resources is rising, due to inadequate management and regulation of economic activities in coastal and island regions, where the dumping of untreated wastewater and waste from living directly into the sea is common; illicit fishing is also rampant, with the use of explosives, electrical impulses, prohibited chemicals, poisons, and illegal fishing gears still occurs. Marine tourism development has been rampant, uncontrolled, and unplanned, with no regard for environmental protection or marine biodiversity conservation, all of which have directly or indirectly depleted biodiversity. marine, aquatic resources, and marine ecosystem damage. This situation has created an urgent need for ministries, branches, and coastal cities to take swift and decisive action to progressively resolve the aforementioned limitations and move forward with the development of a marine economic sector.
Recognizing the importance of marine protected areas in the protection of marine biodiversity, the Prime Minister released Decision No. 742 / QD-TTg on May 26, 2010, authorizing the preparation for the marine biodiversity scheme. Marine conservation in Vietnam will continue until 2020, with the aim of preserving habitats and marine species of economic and scientific importance. It will contribute to the development of marine economy, and improve the livelihoods of fishermen communities in coastal localities.
The Fisheries Law of 2017 was passed by the 14th National Assembly, which includes provisions for the protection and growth of aquatic resources, including marine conservation, in the sense of sustainable fisheries development and international integration.
The Communist Party of Vietnam's Central Committee released Resolution No. 36-NQ / TW on the Strategy for Sustainable Development of Vietnam's Marine Economy to 2030 with a Vision to 2045 on October 22, 2018. “Sustainable development of the marine economy on the basis of green growth, biodiversity protection, and marine environment conservation; ensure harmony between economic and natural environments, conservation and development, promoting the sea's potentials and advantages, and creating a driving force for national economic development,” according to the document. "Well maintain and protect aquatic, coastal, and island ecosystems; raise the area of marine and coastal protected areas to at least 6% of the national marine area” is the specific target.
The work of establishing a system of marine protected areas in Vietnam
According to the Prime Minister's Decision No. 742 / QD-TTg dated May 26, 2010, the system of marine protected areas in Vietnam by 2020 will consist of 16 zones (according to the planning of the system of marine protected areas in Vietnam to 2020 authorized by the Prime Minister).
Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other cities have created and operationalized 12 marine protected areas: Bach Long Vi / Hai Phong MPA, Con Co / Quang Tri, Cu Lao Cham / Quang Nam, Ly Son / Quang Ngai , Nha Trang Bay (Hon Mun) / Khanh Hoa, Hon Cau / Binh Thuan; Phu Quoc / Kien Giang (Phu Quoc MPA is now merged with Phu Quoc National Park), Co To - Dao Tran / Quang Ninh (merging 02 MPAs of Co To and Dao Tran into one MPA Co To - Dao Tran); National Park Bai Tu Long / Quang Ninh, Cat Ba / Hai Phong, Nui Chua / Ninh Thuan, Con Dao / Ba Ria - Vung Tau.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has developed comprehensive plans for the establishment of four MPAs, which have been submitted to provincial People's Committees for approval: Hon Me / Thanh Hoa; Nam Yet / Khanh Hoa; Phu Quy / Binh Thuan; Hai Van - Son Cha / Da Nang - Hue. Despite the fact that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has organized a mission to inspect, guide, and have several documents to direct and inform, the provincial People's Committees have not yet approved the establishment after more than 5 years of handover.
In addition, the results of Task 8 of Project 47's survey on Vietnam's marine resources have identified eight more potential marine protection areas to be added to the Vietnamese MPA system. In the coming time, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will collaborate with community governments and research organizations to continue investigating, surveying, and collecting data on high-biodiversity marine areas that are critical to marine conservation to expand Vietnam's MPA program in order to achieve the Central Executive Committee's Resolution No. 36-NQ / TW's marine conservation targets.
The total area of the marine protected areas in Vietnam approved in Decision 742 / QD-TTg is 270,271 ha, with 169,617 ha of marine area.
The total area of sea and islands expected to be entered the reserve as of September 2020 is 213,400 hectares, which falls short of the 2015 target of 270,271 hectares of sea and islands preserved. If the conserved marine area alone exceeds 185,000 hectares, it would have surpassed the 2015 target of 169,617 hectares). The proportion of protected marine areas in Vietnam's natural waters is 0.185 percent, but it is still short of the 0.24 percent target set by Decision No. 742 / QD-TTg by 2020.
Scientific research activities in the MPA
Every year, more attention is given to scientific research programs in MPAs and national parks. Every year, the number of research topics related to marine conservation grows. The results of the research topics have provided considerable support for management work while also enhancing the technical skills of management boards. An MPA has collaborated closely with research institutions to evaluate the coral breeding model, which has yielded promising results that will be repeated.
However, in contrast to actual requirements, the number of scientific research projects implemented in MPAs and national parks in recent years has remained very limited. Scientific research has not received enough attention in some MPAs and national parks to warrant investment in funding for implementation. The main reason is that research equipment, facilities, and human resources in MPAs are extremely restricted. Some MPAs and national parks, such as Cu Lao Cham (15 research projects with a total budget of about 30 billion VND) to perform surveys and evaluate biodiversity variability, have been implemented well and on a regular basis. year, raising funds for sea turtle conservation, sea grass growth, and people's livelihoods, as well as preventing sea turtle displacement (moved from Con Dao); Hon Mun (9 research projects with a combined budget of 1,043 billion VND) to conduct biodiversity surveys, planting and restoring corals, and protecting sea turtle spawning grounds; Nui Chua National Park (3 research projects in progress).
Scientific research activities in MPAs and national parks are still small and irregular, resulting in limited findings, inconsistent data, and poor value.
Model building and livelihood support for the community
The development of livelihood conversion models for households dependent on natural resource extraction from the MPA has always been a priority for MARD and the MPA Management Board. Several livelihood conversion models have been tested and successfully implemented in MPAs, contributing to improve the lives of people living in and around MPAs while reducing pressure on natural resource extraction, as shown: In the Cu Lao Cham MPA, a homestay model was built by transforming a coastal fishing boat into a tourist boat; financial support for the Women's Union branch to develop handicrafts for tourists in Hon Mun MPA (Nha Trang Bay), raising sand lizards at Nui Chua, etc.
The creation of alternative livelihoods for people living in and around MPAs is still very limited, particularly in terms of the model's sustainability, when compared to actual needs. Many models are only effective when they are funded by a budget; once the project is completed, they are unable to be maintained and eventually fail, owing to a lack of funds to continue operations.
Training for capacity building and public awareness campaigns
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development puts a premium on communication to raise awareness among the residential community at the national level. This work is regarded as one of the most important factors in the performance of marine conservation efforts. MARD annually organizes training and propaganda courses for communities all over the world with the financial and technological help of governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations. Some specific results from the MPA: Organizing 25 training courses for residential communities in the provinces of Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Thanh Hoa, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Da Nang, Quang Ngai, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and Kien Giang, with approximately 1,500 people trained. 8 capacity-building training courses for officials from the central to local levels were organized, with approximately 500 staff members receiving training. Organizing three diving skill courses for 30 marine conservation officers. For MPA Management Boards and provincial representatives, organized four trips abroad for surveys, studies, and knowledge sharing: one trip to the United States, one trip to Australia, one trip to Japan, and one trip to Indonesia. Organizing a variety of networking activities to increase community awareness, including: Exams on marine biodiversity, as well as information on potential opportunities in marine protected areas (MPAs). Organize visits for local management personnel to share their experiences in marine conservation management in Cu Lao Cham, Nha Trang Bay, Nui Chua, Con Dao, and Phu Quoc in order to prepare for the formation of MPAs and assist these staff in obtaining practical knowledge.
In the community, MPAs frequently arrange separate training and propaganda classes for local populations, in addition to training courses and propaganda events chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The following are some clear outcomes:
Since 2007, the Phu Quoc MPA Management Board has conducted more than ten skills training courses for civil servants and employees of the Management Board, as well as related departments and agencies at the regional, district, and commune levels; and attended more than 30 training courses and seminars on biodiversity monitoring, sustainable finance, marine spatial planning, and law enforcement. Building and developing three community volunteer groups on marine conservation in three communes in the MPA: Hon Thom, Bai Thom, and Ham Ninh with a total of about 30 participants, primarily fishermen volunteering to do conservation work; communication skills, leadership skills, study trips, and experience in management Marine protected areas at home and abroad. 6 marine conservation clubs were formed and put into service in schools at 6 primary and secondary schools in the island district, with over 250 students participating. created two groups to track coral and sea grass biodiversity; trained approximately 20 MPA officers and fishermen in scuba diving skills for annual biodiversity monitoring and supervision; Installation and maintenance of the system of zoning buoys and anchors, sanitizing coral reefs, growing corals on the seabed, etc.
Since 2011, Hon Cau MPA has organized 68 classes to disseminate legal knowledge on marine conservation, with 3,440 fishermen and related subjects participating; and distributing 5,000 leaflets to propagate prohibited activities in marine protected areas.
Nha Trang Bay Management Board (Hon Mun MPA) has initiated environmental education programs for primary and secondary schools in the area; coordinated several flyers to spread awareness about environmental protection to visitors and communities living near Hon Mun MPA; mobilized businesses to work together to collect waste in the MPA; and stocked some seafood species into the MPA to regenerate resources and increase populations, etc.
The management board of Cu Lao Cham MPA organizes many propaganda courses for local residents of coastal communes; collaborates with local media agencies on a regular basis to coordinate radio, increase news and articles in magazines, and on social networks to spread and advertise environmental conservation to the community and tourists.
Furthermore, a number of MPAs and national parks have established cross-cutting projects, such as a sea turtle protection program in Con Dao; "The movement to say no to plastic bags" in Cu Lao Cham, Ly Son; "Friendly diving" in Nha Trang Bay and Cu Lao Cham; World Natural Heritage in Halong Bay, Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve, "Visit the Rock Park" at Nui Chua National Park.
In general, training and propaganda have been continuously maintained and have produced impressive results, such as increased knowledge of people living in and around MPAs. People actively engage in waste disposal and environmental conservation programs in certain marine protected areas, and they work with the Management Board to provide information about violations to management. The growing awareness of the importance of marine conservation among leaders at all levels has led to the creation of favorable conditions for MPAs to function effectively.
However, in recent years, the subjects of tourism - service establishments, as well as the rapid rise in tourists in MPAs - have put considerable strain on the environment and marine resources. Many food service establishments have directly discharged waste into the sea, causing contamination (most noticeably in Ham Ninh, Phu Quoc). Most visitors are ignorant of environmental safety, and the condition of disposing of garbage everywhere irritates the local community. This is the object that should be concerned with propaganda and public knowledge in the coming years.
International cooperation activities
International collaboration programs in the field of marine conservation have been conducted on a regular and successful basis. It can be said that the accomplishments of Vietnam's MPAs have been greatly supported and funded in financial and technical terms by the governments of other nations, foreign organizations, and non-governmental organizations. In Vietnam, specifically: From 2001 to the present, the MPA system in Vietnam has received substantial financial and technical assistance from the Government of Denmark (DANIDA), the US Government, and other international organizations (NOAA) and international and non-governmental organizations in Vietnam, including the IUCN, UNDP, World Bank, GEF, WWF, TRAFFIC, HSI, ENV, MCD, etc. IUCN Vietnam has supported MARD in organizing numerous training courses to increase the capacity of marine conservation workers at all levels, as well as seminars, conferences, and forums to share experiences in marine conservation work among countries in the region and around the world, especially the annual meeting of MPAs and national parks.
Le Mai (theo tongcucthuysan.gov.vn)