Vietnam: Marine biodiversity conservation needs master plan

VietnamNet 7 Jun 16;

Experts are urging the building of a master plan on preserving marine biodiversity in its true sense to improve the efficiency of the work in the country.

With more than 3,000 kilometres of sea shore and 20 million peoples’ livelihoods dependant on sea and coastal areas, Vietnam has always paid attention to protecting marine biodiversity, both via creating laws and establishing marine conservation areas to protect sea creatures, coastal landscapes as well as the unique features of sea and islands.

The country has created a number of programmes and strategies to the purpose, including a plan on conserving biodiversity in chapter 2 of the Law on Biodiversity in 2008 and the national sea strategy until 2020.

However, Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi, from the National University of Hanoi, Vietnam does not yet have an overall plan on preserving marine biodiversity in its true sense.

More than 11,000 species have been identified in Vietnam’s seas and they live in 20 different types of ecosystems, in six different areas of biodiversity.

Of the known species, 6,000 are seabed species, 2,038 are fish species, 152-528 fish species in coral reefs, 653 seaweed species and 225 shrimp species.

Besides this, more than 1,300 species of animals and plants have been detected on islands.

According to Hoi, the total number of known species is still lower than the real number because investigation and research on sea and coastal biodiversity has not been carried out regularly, especially on small islands.

Coastal ecosystems are seen as “natural infrastructure” in protecting the sea shore, ensuring social security, preventing floods, and fighting climate change and rising sea levels – including tidal waves. That is the reason why the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has sent out a message that investing in coastal ecosystems is an investment for the future.

Despite the huge potential, Vietnam’s marine and coastal ecosystems have been facing adverse impacts caused by social-economic development activities and natural disasters, including climate change and rising sea levels.

In addition, poor infrastructure, a lack of necessary equipment, and preservation officials’ thin role coupled with the complete absence of participation by locals in planning and managing preservation areas, combine to limit the effectiveness of management on marine biodiversity and marine nature preservation.

At present, around 100 species under threat have been included in Vietnam’s Red Book and the IUCN’s Red List on endangered species that need urgent protection.

In order to save endangered species, the planning to preserve marine biodiversity must be implemented ahead of development activities like investment, exploitation and use.

The efforts in the past few years by relevant agencies and scientists in applying the marine space planning method, with the division of marine biodiversity areas has produced initial results.

Scientists have designated marine zones in need of preservation and built a national plan of marine preservation areas until 2020 along with a programme for the management of such areas following their approval.

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