|A view of Cu Lao Cham Island, one of the country's marine-protected areas in central Quang Nam Province. — Photo vietnamplus.vn
NINH THUAN (VNS) — Marine-protected areas (MPAs) have played an important role in protecting the country's natural marine resources but a more effective management model is needed, delegates heard at a conference held yesterday in Ninh Thuan Province.
The deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam, said: "The ministry will collect the results of all experience of current MPAs to create a unified management model to increase power for management boards and enhance co-operation among reasonable preservation and tourism exploitation."
"A legal framework will be reviewed and updated and a complete master plan for the remaining MPAs will be drawn up," he said.
The deputy minister also said that the public needed to be better educated about the key role of marine-protected areas, and unnecessary exploitation.
The conference also reviewed the master plan for MPAs in Viet Nam up to 2020, which was approved by the Prime Minister in 2010 in order to stop the decline of the marine industry, develop the sea economy and create a living for local fishermen.
"After four years of implementation, seven of 16 MPAs were approved by the Prime Minister, which had set up master plans," said Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung, deputy director of the Department of Conservation and Aquatic Resources Development.
"A legal framework and international co-operation for MPAs has been established along with training courses provided for staff," she added.
"However, many policies have not come into effect that are related to MPA establishment and protection; earnings support for local residents; benefits from marine-resource protection services; and sea biology environmental-protection services," the deputy director said.
In addition, she also complained about a limited State budget for MPAs.
"During the 2016-20 period, MPAs need a huge and long-term investment. Therefore, the Ministry of Finance should release a special mechanism in order to support MPAs," she said.
The conference is one of several activities within the five-year Memorandum of Understanding signed between the ministry's Directorate of Fisheries and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The MoU concerns conservation and development of aquatic resources in marine species and ecosystem, management effectiveness of MPAs, sustainable financing for conservation and development of aquatic resources, and the finalization of the legal framework for the Viet Nam Fund for Aquatic Resources Reproduction.
To support the remaining MPA master plan, IUCN has released a study "Viet Nam MPAs Management Effectiveness Evaluation".
Prior to the study, no management effectiveness evaluation (MEE) of the existing seven MPAs had been set. The standards for MPA management are being met, and are guiding the planned MPA expansion.
"MPAs in Viet Nam are managed under a range of different legal authorities. All the MPAs except Cat Ba carry out patrols but these MPAs have no authority to enforce the law," Bui Thi Thu Hien, IUCN Marine & Coastal Programme Coordinator, a one of the survey's authors said.
"For financing, all MPA budgets come from local governments. None of the MPAs have sufficient funding to carry out essential management activities. And the funds that are provided are often earmarked, greatly limiting flexibility," she added.
Most MPA managers cite tourism as the most promising source of sustainable financing but only a few MPAs (Nha Trang, Ha Long, Cu Lao Cham, Con Dao) directly generate significant income from tourism. In Ha Long, the management board receives 18 per cent of revenue from entrance fees, and the rest goes to the Quang Ninh People's Committee.
"All MPAs lack staff with professional background in marine biology. Most MPA staff were trained as foresters. In Viet Nam, there is still no undergraduate programme in marine biology, which has resulted in a huge competency gap," she said.
"Most MPAs lack proper facilities, especially boats and diving equipment, to carry out research or in some cases even the most basic field work. Together with inadequate funding, this leads to weak to non-existent law enforcement and monitoring in most MPAs," Hien added.
"The key recommendation is that Viet Nam should not wait for the ‘perfect' financial and legal framework to be in place. This will probably never fully happen and would represent a huge missed opportunity. The challenge is to make better use of existing resources and to leverage existing relationships with local governments, businesses, universities, and other potential partners," she concluded.
The "Marine Conservation for Sustainable Development of Fisheries in Viet Nam" conference took place in Nui Chua National Park, organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Directorate of Fisheries, IUCN and Ninh Thuan People's Committee. — VNS