HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam is urgently seeking ways of sustaining its marine economy as climate change warms and raises sea levels - and, together with massive pollution, continues to destroy the nation's 110,000 hectares of coral reefs.
The marine economy now contributes about 48 per cent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and there are plans to raise this to 53-55 per cent by 2020. It includes industries related to trade and investment in seafood products, ship and boat building, water transport and tourism.
Climate change, overfishing and pollution is blamed for a reduction in fish species and their retreat to deeper-sea regions, said the president of the Viet Nam Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment, Tran Thuc.
And, he added, there appeared to be a connection between a decrease in the income of local fishermen and the more frequent appearance of tropical storms caused by the changes.
Thuc said coral reefs had been rapidly dying for 20 years, largely because sea-surface temperatures had been increasing.
According to the National Strategy on Environmental Protection approved by the Government last year, only 14.5 per cent of coral reefs, equal to nearly 16,000 hectares, are at present in good condition nation-wide. At least 44 per cent, equal to 48,000 hectares, are reported to be in poor shape.
Statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment show that the country had about 110,000 hectares of coral reefs in 2007.
Other problems created by the more extreme weather and rising sea levels, according to Thuc, include damage to urban infrastructures, especially in coastal regions.
For example, one storm is said to have destroyed the dyke system in Da Nang City on the central coast in 2009.
Erosion and the intrusion of saline water are also complicating the development of the country's coastline, he said. This included about 16 kilometres of coastline in northern Hai Phong Province.
The Viet Nam Institute for Tourism Development Research said extreme weather phenomena brought by climate change might lessen revenue from coastal tourism, a major industry. It said revenue from this type of tourism accounted for 70 per cent of the total revenue of the marine economy.
The increase in storms is also expected to temporarily force the closure of seaports or cause traffic congestion in sea transport, leading to losses for commercial ventures.— VNS