HCM City Marine Science-Technology and Economy Association Chairman Le Ke Lam talked to Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) newspaper about the development potential of Viet Nam's extensive marine and coastal resources.
What are your comments about the coastal tourism industry in Viet Nam?
Many coastal countries, including Viet Nam, have focused development on sea tourism industry. However, I think that tourism potential is threatened by the current attitude towards exploiting the tourist industry; new programmes need to address the problems that have come up.
Some newspapers recently reported that some areas of Nha Trang Bay have become overcrowded and that it has lost its natural charm. Visitors want to experience the beauty of the ocean in a clean and safe environment.
Without addressing the inherent problems of tourism and the negative impact it has on coastal areas, visitors will not be tempted to return.
Viet Nam should learn from Singapore and Japan in this regard. Singapore, a country with only few million people receives tens of millions of visitors yearly.
What do you say about the country' potential in regards to its coastal regions?
Viet Nam has more than 3,260 km's of coast and more than 3,000 islands nation-wide. The country also has over 100 sea ports, 48 bays and 100 river mouths.
Our marine economy has three important aspects, the potential held within the natural resources, the geo-economic and the geo-strategic positions.
Exploitation of the sea for the country's economic development plays an important role in socio-economic development, while it also offers the country security and protection.
What do you think about the country's strategy for marine economic development and the role of sea fishing and aquaculture in Viet Nam?
Due to various circumstances, the country's development of its marine resources has not yet reached its economic potential. Development of the marine economy should not stop at just fishing and aquaculture but should also explore processing, consumption, export and marine conservation.
The Government should restructure marine based businesses to ensure a more effective exploitation of available resources; this is a necessary step to achieve the goal of having the marine economy making up 53-55 per cent of the country's GDP by 2020.
According to the Mnistry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam has more than 30,000 fishing boats and the majority of them were owned and operated by the fishermen themselves. There is still a lack of comprehensive and long-term government support for investment in and modernisation of the fleets.
The most important thing is that the Government should support fishermen in the use of new technology, help them to develop logistics which aid and help them prolong fishing trips and increase their fishing capabilities.
Fishermen could benefit from increased productivity. So, I think that the aquaculture sector still needs an overall and a long term strategy.
What do you have to say about the marine logistics industry?
The country has more than 200 sea and river ports but marine transport logistics are very modest due to small number of local ships and vessels with freight capabilities. Hundreds of tonnes of export goods are transported mainly by foreign vessels.
The country's marine and river logistics industry also needs restructuring and a long term strategy. The most important point is that the industry's human resources should be nurtured and developed, from processing managers to seamen.
Marine logistics ranked third among key marine economic industries, however the industry needs more support industries, such as shipbuilding, port construction and renovation, docks, container depots as well as fuel, food and related services.
However, the industry is facing many difficulties in part due to the bankcruptcy of the Vinashin and Vinaline groups.
Have we got any research on marine science, a potential field of marine economy?
The country has an Institute of Oceanography. However, the institute's capacity is still limited in many aspects.
An overall marine scientific research programme would be very beneficial to the country's overall development, it would serve the country's national welfare and support people's livelihood.
I think that the Party and Government should pay more attention to investing in marine scientific research in an effort to take full advantage of the country's marine potential. It may be a little late now, but I think that it's better now than never! — VNS