First national round table
14 September 2001
The development of the Marine Protected Areas System. The Vietnamese experience
Vu Huy Thu, Deputy Director, Fisheries Resources and Environment Conservation Department, the Ministry of Fisheries
On behalf of the Fisheries Resources and Environment Conservation Department of the Ministry of Fisheries, may I warmly welcome all participants to this workshop.
Vietnam is a sea bordering country featuring high biodiversity and rich fishery resources with more than 2,030 fish species, 225 shrimp species, 653 algae species, 35 cuttlefish species, 5 turtle species and 12 snake species. In addition, there are also abalone, pearl oysters, blood ark-shells, colourful coral and other endemic species. This is the basis for fisheries development at the present time and for future generations.
However, due to the high population growth rate and limited awareness among fishermenfishermen have focused, for short term economic purposes, and continue to focus on the exploitation of some specific species with high economic values and export potential such as shrimps, hind, cuttlefish and abalone.
Some rare and precious species have sharply decreased in number and risk extinction. In less than 10 years, from 1989 to 1997, the number of threatened and endangered species sharply increased from 10 to 135 species, including 78 species living in the sea. In some marine areas of Vietnam, especially in shallow waters, fisheries exploitation has reached a critical level. Many economically valuable fish species in the fishing zones are facing over-exploitation. Fisheries production gradually increases from year to year but the fishing productivity (CPUE) has decreased noticeably in recent years. Therefore, effective and sustainable management of fisheries resources is very important and should be applied urgently to fisheries development.
In order to resolve the above-mentioned issues, and with great attention to marine fisheries development, the Government of Vietnam applies appropriate measures to protect and rationally exploit fisheries resources in order to meet the populations demand for animal protein consumption.
As a concept, marine protection is new to Vietnam, however, in practice, the Vietnamese fisheries sector first started marine and coastal biodiversity protection activities in 1960. 20 marine and coastal areas were designated for protection in the period from 2000 to 2001. 15 areas will be proposed as marine protected areas. The system of policies, laws and the establishment of fisheries management organisations with the initial effective operations are the visible evidence.
Creating Marine Protected Areas in Vietnam
In order to strengthen the management and protection of the living environment of fisheries species, in compliance with the Governments guidance, the Ministry of Fisheries Resources in co-operation with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and other related Ministries and sectors has developed and submitted the proposal on "Creating Marine Protected Areas towards 2010 in Vietnam" to the Government for the formal approval.
In the period from 2000 to 2010, 15 marine protected areas will be designated. These include:
a) 6 areas in the North of Vietnam: Tran island, Co To island, Cat Ba island, Bach Long Vi island, Hon Me island and Con Co island.
b) 6 areas in the central region: Hon-Son-Tra (Hai Van area), Cu-Lao-Cham, Ly Son island, Hon Mun (Bich Dam), Hon Cau (Vinh Hao), Phu Quy;
c) 1 area in Southeast Vietnam: Con Dao;
d) 1 area in Southwest Vietnam: Phu Quoc;
e) 1 area in the Truong Sa-Hoang Sa sea: Truong Sa.
Categories of Marine Protected Areas
The 15 above-mentioned areas can be classified into 3 categories (IUCN recommends 8 categories) as follows:
Rational for establishment
The 15 above-mentioned marine protected areas are classified based on three main groups of indicators:
The system of state institutions responsible for the fisheries resources protection
There are two management levels within the system of the government institutions responsible for the fisheries resources protection:
There were 37 Fisheries Resources and Environment Conservation branches in 61 provinces and cities with nearly 1,000 persons, on June 2001.
By Decision No. 415-TTg of 10 August 1994, the Prime Minister officially permitted the fisheries sector to establish the Fisheries Conservation Inspection Department. The Fisheries Conservation Inspection Department has responsibility for inspecting activities related to the protection of fisheries resources, protection of the living environment of aquatic animals, control of the security level of the fishing equipment, control of the quality of the aquatic products (living and processing products) and verification of the technical requirements for control equipment. There are two levels of the Fisheries Conservation Inspection organisations:
Much attention has also been paid to supplying technical infrastructure for ministerial and provincial departments like equipment to support inspection activities in the sea including 90 fisheries inspection boats, which supervise more than 1 million km2 of special economic zones and more than 1 million km2 of water surface for aquatic farming. However, this force is not sufficient to carry out the assigned tasks. The system of laboratories for controlling the quality of aquatic products has also received funding. Until June 2001, 25 out of 36 provincial Fisheries Inspection Departments have laboratories with adequate instruments and equipment to carry out analysis and diagnose some common fish and shrimp diseases.
Many provinces have strong teams for the protection of fisheries resources including Kien Giang, Ca Mau, Binh Thuan, Ba Ria, Vung Tau, Khanh Hoa, Ben Tre, Binh Dinh. For example, there are 65 people working for Binh Thuan Fisheries Resources Protection Department, which is equipped with 7 fisheries inspection boats.
Currently, the legal system and policy in Vietnam is under development and adjustment. Managing marine protected areas requires a scientific basis with high sector specialisation. Government officials who are responsible for fisheries resources protection, including the conservation of the marine resources are limited in number and do not have enough experience, especially at local level. Therefore, in the immediate term, the management of marine protected areas is placed under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Fisheries in close co-operation with related ministries, sectors and local authorities in the following ways:
The Ministry of Fisheries is responsible for assisting the Prime Minister to unify management of Vietnams marine protected areas with the following specific tasks:
The Department of Fisheries and Environment Conservation assists the Minister of the Ministry of Fisheries to uniformly manage the system of national marine protected areas.
The people's committees of provinces and cities under central management have the following responsibilities:
Management of Marine Protected Areas:
Management boards will be formulated for marine protected areas as follows:
1) National Parks:
A management board will be established for each National Park. The Ministry of Fisheries will issue decisions for the establishment of Marine National Parks' management boards. Management boards are under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Fisheries. The management board has its own account, stamp and the right to take initiatives to implement assigned duties in the National Park. The management board has a director and an assistant director who are appointed by the Minister of Fisheries.
2) Species Conservation Areas/Habitat and Nature Reserve Areas:
The management board of the Nature Conservation Areas will be formulated in accordance with their specific conditions. The management board of the Nature Conservation Areas can be established in compliance with the decision of the Minister after revising the proposal submitted by the Fisheries Resources Conservation of the Ministry (if the conservation area is under direct management of the Ministry); or in accordance with Decision of the Provincial People's Committees after revising the proposal submitted by the Fisheries Resources Conservation branches with agreement of the Ministry of Fisheries.
Management boards of the Species Conservation Areas/Habitat and Nature Reserve Areas will be under the supervision of the Ministry of Fisheries (if they are under the management of the Ministry of Fisheries) and under the supervision of the provincial Department of Fisheries or Department of Agricultural and Rural Development respectively (if the management of these areas have been assigned to the local authorities). In the case of establishing only protection stations, these stations will be managed by the local departments of fisheries resources management and conservation.
Based on the concrete conditions, the state agencies will investigate the possibilities to transfer the management power of the Species Conservation Areas/Habitat and Nature Reserve Areas to other capable socio-economic organisations, including communities of fishermen.
Establishing and managing marine protected areas is an effective conservation approach used in many countries in the region and around the world. Vietnam follows this approach. However, we hope that with the experience of the participants at this round table we can take firm steps in establishing and managing a system of marine protected areas in Vietnam.