The Diversity of protection approaches of natural resources and environment in the Vietnam"s sea

Seas and oceans are the cradle of life. It has provided mankind with a huge amount of food, pharmaceuticals, raw materials, energy, transportation, natural resources. However, any rapid economic growth and development will strongly pollute and deplete the Vietnam marine resources is not an exception. During the conference celebrating the 35 years anniversary of the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), Dr. Du Van Toan has proposed to diversify and to implement strategic approaches to protect the marine resources in Vietnam’s sea. In general in order to effectively utilize the available resources sustainably.

Current situation of Vietnam marine resources

Vietnam"s sea cover an area of over 1 million km2, within it resides more than 4,000 islands, and marine resources are over 20 types of ecosystems. Vietnam’s sea with high biological productivity, greater resources, is residence of about 11,000 species, of which over 2,000 species of fish, especially in the presence of coral reefs ecosystem, sea grass beds and mangroves. In 2002, the World Resource Institute (WRI) published a study, showing 80% of Vietnam"s coral reefs are endangered (at risk), of which 50% critically endangered. In addition, in the Vietnam costal zone, natural ecosystem and resources are seriously depleted caused by environmental pollution, overfishing, urbanization, use lack of intertidal planning, aquaculture, climate change and sea level rises, ocean acidification and maritime transport pollutions. Therefore, it is necessary to apply various approaches to protect the marine natural resources and environment with the end result of ensuring sustainable development.

Vietnam and International protection approaches to marine resources

Around the world, countries are now applying many strategies to protect the marine natural resources and environment, in accordance with the international standards regarding Natural Heritage and Biosphere Reserves of UNESSCO, such as recognition of Wetlands Area (RAMSAR), the World"s Beautiful Bays (WMBB), New Natural Wonder of the NOWC, Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA, IMO), Transboundary Marine Protected Areas (MPA), Marine Peace Park (MPP). The end goal of the protection of marine resources is to divide the sea area into various core zones, buffer zones as well as transition zones in order to implement policies started above. In core areas, the focus will lie on heavy protection and resource monitoring, while for the buffer zones, resource extraction will be limited; finally, the transition zones will be allowed as a resource extraction areas.




Diagram of marine proctection areas


Within the country, international agency has recognized a national heritage (Ha Long Bay in the 1994 and 2002 year); 6 Biosphere reserves (Can Gio mangrove forest - 2000, the Cat Ba Island - 2004 , Red River Delta-2004, Kien Giang Coastal Zone - 2006, Cu Lao Cham - 2009, Ca Mau Coastal Zone - 2009, The Western of Nghe An, 2009); 3 Beautiful bays (Ha Long, Lang Co, Nha Trang), and established 7 national parks system (Cat Ba, Con Dao, Bai Tu Long, Phu Quoc, Xuan Thuy, Nui Chua Mui Ca Mau), 4 nature reserves (Tien Hai, Hon Mun, Cu Lao Cham, Rạn Trào); 16 marine protected areas (Dao Tran, Co To, Cat Ba, Bach Long Vi, Hon Me, Con Co, Hai Van-Son Tra, Cu Lao Cham, Ly Son, Hon Mun, Hon Cau, Phu Quy, Nui Chua, Con Dao, Nam Yet, Phu Quoc).

The management and the laws regarding protection of marine natural resources

Nowadays, the management and the law to protect the resources and marine environment in Vietnam has many concerns and is not yet synchronized. Vietnam has signed the international legal instruments regarding protection for the marine environment, for example the Law of the Sea UNCLOS 82; Biodiversity Convention; Heritage Convention, Ramsar Convention, the IMO Conventions: MARPOL, SOLAS, COLREG...


However, Vietnam does not have the Law on Protection of the marine environment resources but only have the Government"s decralation on integrated management of marine natural resources and environment. Activities related to the sea and protection of marine resources is mainly regulated by the specialized laws as the Law on Environmental Protection, Law on Biodiversity, Fishery Law, Tourism Law, Maritime Law, Oil Gas Law, Mineral Law, and the decision to approve the system of marine protected areas of Vietnam to 2020 and other environmental protection programs. In addition, the management process is divided and entangled between the Ministries, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental manages the RAMSAR sites, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development manages marine protected areas and national parks, other areas are mainly managed by local authorities. Resources and funding of marine protected areas is often limited and the policy mechanisms are not synchronized and smooth.

Some proposal approaches for proctection of marine resources

Based on the actual situation of exploitation, conservation and the urgent needs regarding protection and development resources of the Vietnam marine, some approaches regarding protection of marine environment resources in the future are being proposed include:

At the macro level, the State must construct early a policy mechanism, uniform laws regarding protection of marine environment resources. A national organization unites to  plan and manage of reserver areas-protected areas marine environment resource should be established. Beside it, need to accelerate the expansion of Vietnam"s sea areas protected, preserve at least to 2%, not just 0.2%  today, in which, Additional updates and diversifying new approaches, such as: construction "Marine Park", "Heritage Sea" "Marine Wonder", "Marine Environmental High Risk Area", "Dolphin Conservation Area", "Coastal Reserves", "Reefs Conservation Area ", "Mangrove Proctection", "Grass area"

In the field of international cooperation, should actively cooperate with other countries, international organizations, institutions, non-government funds in the development of Transboundary marine protected areas (TBMPA) with neighboring countries have the common sea border such as China, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia ... For the clear sovereignty of sea areas, may propose the establishment of the Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) with neighboring countries, while the dispute may apply the Marine Park Peace ( MPP) tool.


World PSSA Map


To implement this purpose, firstly request is the Vietnam goverment should construct National Marine Museum in Hanoi, and Museum System of the Island and Sea local to protect all historical development, natural resources and humane culture of Vietnam island and sea area, to serve the common knowledge and scientific research, exchange of exhibits and international cooperation on the work of museums, sea resource conservation. In addition, the Vietnam should build gene bank conservation of endangered sea creatures, precious and rare.

Not all countries have the sea and marine environmental resources. We need sense, to appreciate exactly the role and importance of this resource. Diversity and apply various approaches regarding protection of natural resources and the marine environment is practical work and effective way to contribute to the exploitation, use and conservation of precious marine natural resources contribute socio-economic development.

Translated by Dr. Du Van Toan
Link to Vietnamsese version

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